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Recently, Columbia Lyme expert Brian Fallon had a feature article in the Psychiatric Times, in which he spoke of how commonly Lyme is being missed, and how it is the great at imitating other illnesses.

Below is a very powerful and common story about misdiagnosis and the experiences of many in getting treatment.

Tick-borne disease:
Renee Battle fights lyme disease

Renee Battle of Todd has had a long fight with what she calls a "hidden illness," and went through years of testing before finally getting the treatment she feels she needs.

Battle, who is in her early forties, first noticed symptoms six years ago while on vacation at the beach. She felt light-headed and anxious, her heart was racing, and she experienced numbness in her feet and hands.

At the time, she thought she was experiencing stress, but the numbness kept returning in the months that followed.

She went to a local internal medicine specialist, who immediately suspected multiple sclerosis (MS). Battle underwent EEGs, EKGs, MRIs and other diagnostic tests. At the time, the doctor also detected Lyme disease and prescribed a course of antibiotics as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

All the other tests were negative, and she later visited a specialist and a neurologist who repeated the tests.

"They all decided it was stress," Battle said. "I did test positive for Lyme disease back then, but they didn't make a big deal out of it. They told me there were a lot of 'false positives' and that I probably didn't have it."

Later she began experiencing sudden jerky movements. "It was even to the point where I was jumping out of my chair while sitting down," she said.

Her symptoms seemed to be triggered by stress, and later doctors told her the Lyme disease may have been dormant in her body for an unknown number of years before it was triggered by a major physical or mental stressor. She believes the symptoms were triggered by her 1998 hysterectomy.

She was placed on some anti-seizure and antidepressant drugs, and the doctors took her husband aside and said, "It's stress, your wife has psychological problems and needs help."

She changed jobs, underwent therapy, took antidepressants and learned stress management techniques, and the symptoms faded for about two years.

In the summer of 2002, they started all over again, with the tremors and numbness becoming more intense. Her muscles would freeze, she would stumble, and she suffered non-epileptic seizures. Another round of tests yielded the same results.

"One day at work, I walked into a room and I was completely frozen and I went into a fog," Battle said. "The spells come and go, real sporadically, and stress, not eating well, and fatigue bring them on." She saw a different neurologist in September 2002 who repeated the tests and treated her for Lyme disease again. Battle was still working as a school secretary, but had numbness, blurred speech, and seizures.

"I pretty much convinced myself I had MS," she said.

The neurologist told her she had some type of virus that was damaging her auto immune system, but couldn't pinpoint it.

"The neurologist told me we've tried everything, but the Lyme disease keeps showing up," she said.

In June of last year, the fatigue became so great she was placed on short-term disability. She took a 14-day course of high-powered, intravenous antibiotics. Stress and fatigue continued to exacerbate her symptoms, and the neurologist sent her to the Jemsek Clinic in Huntersville.

Battle met with Dr. Joseph Jemsek in April and completed a questionnaire.

"All of a sudden, I connected with him," she said. "He said the Lyme disease had not been properly treated and he would treat it aggressively. He told me in six to none months I could hopefully lead a normal life."

She's on an intravenous course of the disease in which she administers her own infusions of medicine through a catheter surgically placed in her arm. She also goes to the Jemsek Clinic once every other week. The treatments cause some side effects, and Battle likens it to chemotherapy.

Since she has a chronic form of the disease, there may be some nervous system and brain cell damage. She won't know until more of the symptoms clear up, though a cardiologist said her heart is fine. She said since it had gone untreated for so long, it's possible she could have recurring symptoms for the rest of her life, though now she's better equipped to handle them.

"One of the scary things that happens is the brain fog you can get into when you know things are going on but you can't interact with them," she said.

Though she's beginning to see positive changes, the disease has taken its toll on her life. She couldn't drive for three months because of the seizures.

"I've had a lot of wonderful support from friends and family," she said. "A big spiritual connection has helped me through all this.

"I finally have somebody who understands what I'm talking about and what I've been through," she says of Jemsek, who is one of only three doctors on the East Coast currently specializing in aggressive treatment of Lyme disease.

"I'm on the right track and I feel like one day soon I'll be able to live life to the fullest, enjoy being with my family again, enjoy being healthy again, and live a normal life," she said.

She can't be sure when she contracted the disease. She's lived in the area since 1996 and has done some hiking. Though she's visited areas where the risk of contracting Lyme disease is higher, doctors tell her there's no way to know when or where she contracted it. She said she never found a tick or the rash that often accompanies the onset of the disease.

"I have a feeling a lot of people out there have it and don't know it," Battle said. "I feel like I have it for a reason. If I can help one person who might have the disease and get treated early on, then it will be worth it."

The fine article above was written by Scott Nicholson and published in the Watauga Democrat at: www.wataugademocrat.com.

Reprinted with permission and my sincere thanks.

"The price
of freedom is
constant vigilance."
Thomas Jefferson

I wonder how many lives they saved by writing and printing this important story?

To Your Health!

Dr. J

For more information on the link between Lyme and Parkinson's symptoms go to: www.lymeinfo.net/multiplesclerosis.html.

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