What I've Seen When Lyme Goes Untreated
If you didn't know already, it's pretty widely regarded in the Lyme community that Lyme is dubbed as the new "Great Imitator". And I've seen many friends experience a misdiagnosis because Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria associated with Lyme Disease, causes symptoms associated with other conditions. What a pain in the bum.
According to ILADS, fewer than 50% of Lyme patients don't remember getting bit by a tick or seeing its trademark bullseye rash. I didn't remember a bite or rash, but when I was being treated for Rheumatoid Arthritis, I only felt worse physically. So I was my own advocate and looked into Lyme symptoms.
In my personal opinion as a patient, I believe that if left untreated for years, Lyme can prey on the weaknesses in your DNA and trigger an early onset of various conditions, which I listed below. Everyone has different genes, so you'll notice that no two Lyme patients are exactly alike. Many Lyme patients have different symptoms and diagnoses, from Ankylosing Spondylitis to Parkinson's. If you don't believe me, check out the staggering list of 38 celebrities diagnosed with Lyme and how all of their symptoms were different. However, I also believe that if given the proper treatment, you can amazingly reverse these symptoms! I believe this because it happened to me. If I have RA, then why did immunosuppressants make me feel worse, and now that I'm not taking any, I have no pain? (You can read more about my story here.) Symptoms vary from person to person and I have seen friends experience the following diagnoses either before or after a Lyme diagnosis:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- A disease characterized by profound fatigue, sleep abnormalities, pain, and other symptoms that are made worse by exertion
- Widespread muscle pain and tenderness
Arthritis (Rheumatoid*, Juvenile, and Osteoarthritis)
- Inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age
- * My misdiagnosis
- An inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues
- When the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves
- When the immune system attacks the nerves
Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/ALS)
- A nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function
- An inner ear disorder that causes episodes of vertigo (spinning)
- A progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions
Early Parkinson’s Disease
- A disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors
- A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs
- A mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities
- A mood disorder causing a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest
- An inflammatory disorder causing muscle pain and stiffness around the shoulders and hips
Many Lyme tests are inaccurate; I know this because I took several Lyme tests and they turned up negative. There are such things as false negatives and false positives in the medical community, and that is a fact. A false negative means that the infection is there, even though it does not show up in a blood test. So if you suspect Lyme in yourself or a loved one, consult a doctor. I found my Lyme specialist in the specialist referrals page on ILADS to be properly tested, treated, and now I have my life back.