Ten months -- That's how long I have been going to doctors trying to figure out what's going on with my health.
I've been to Gynocologists, Acupuncturists, Internal Medicines Doctors, Naturopaths, Cardiologists, and Neurologists. Today, after months of suspecting, a final blood test provided the needed clue to an exhaustive puzzle: Ehrlichia. I am positive for Ehrlichia. By association (and coupled with my other results); it's official. I've been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease.
Ehrlichia, caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis, is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. IF detected early, Enrlichia is easily treated with Doxycycline. Left undetected, in an older person or someone with a weakened immune system, it can be deadly. The CDC reports case-fatality rates of Ehrlichia as high as 5%.
Difficult to diagnose because of its non-specific symptoms--high fever, muscle aches, chills, headaches--Ehrlichia often goes undetected. In the chronic stage--it can cause confusion, hemorrhages, and renal failure. It can also be accompanied by other tick-borne co-infections such as Bartonella, Babesia, and other things... which can come out of hiding with treatment. Ironically, one of the most concise and well-written articles I found to explain Ehrlichia was written for dogs -- not for people.
In Lyme world, Ehrlichia is considered a co-infection of Lyme (Borrelia Burgdorferi) -- a dinner companion of sorts. Other guests at my Lyme party include Epstein Barr, Parvo, M. Pnemoniae, HHV 6, and Cytomegalovirus -- all of which are known to prolong and complicate treatment.
Recovery from Chronic Lyme Disease is debatable. Infectious Disease Doctors say Lyme is easy to detect and easy to treat; they also say "Chronic Lyme" does not exist (two points I would definitely argue). Lyme Literate Physicians (and those most entrenched in the battle) say Chronic Lyme is incurable; long term antibiotics are necessary to beat it into submission.
At this point, 12-18 months is my minimum estimated treatment time (and that's a conservative number). Many of my favorite friends have been fighting Lyme for years. I am hoping planning to avoid that fate and become one of the lucky ones. Time will tell.
Altered Today: First of many intravenous antibiotic/nutritional treatments, new protocol, diagnosis, and new problem...how to live and finance $500/week in medical expenses.
Note: To better understand Lyme Disease, the political controversy surrounding it, how it progresses, why your insurance company probably won't cover it, and how it can affect you, I highly recommend watching Under Our Skin -- a very enlightening documentary. You can watch it now on Netflix or view it instantly on YouTube for $2.99.