Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lyme -- Does it Affect Women More Often?

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My friend Beth sent me an interesting article from SELF magazine, June 2016. First, I'm grateful when friends send me articles, links, anything at all about Lyme disease. The books often leave me stressed and I get panic attacks (so MUCH!), but the articles and links are very helpful.


I went to SELF magazine's web page and found not just this article, but MANY articles about Lyme. If I could do a cartwheel, I would. The more magazines of this type that talk about Lyme, its causes, its difficulties, and who in the fame world has been affected, the more people start paying attention.


SELF Magazine, June 2016
www.self.com


My life has been destroyed by this disease. I've had doctors call me a liar, a drug seeker. I've had doctors throw their hands in the air in exasperation and tell me they don't know what I have but it might be rheumatoid arthritis (which runs deeply in my family); chronic fatigue syndrome (but doctor, I'm exhausted but can't sleep); the fact that I'm overweight (I cannot work out if I feel like a Mack truck hit me and I'm throwing up - the neighbors frown on that around here when I person takes a healthy walk); fibromyalgia (Doctor: "Does this hurt?" Pushes so hard on my shoulders I nearly fall over. "Um it didn't tickle, I'll say that!"); and finally, Lupus.


I was treated for Lupus for a year with methotrexate. While taking methotrexate, a doctor normally prescribes folic acid (or folate) to lessen side effects. However, make sure your doctor has checked to see if you have the MTHFR mutation, because if you do, and many do (raises hand), you must take a different format -- L-methyl folate, common name, Deplin. Also, avoid caffeine. My rheumatologist failed to tell me that and a bunch of other things, but as she flatly told me, she didn't see what SHE would call lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (didn't matter when I showed her my normal ring size, a 4.5, and my current ring size on a good day, a 7). Therefore, she said, she was treating me only according to my RA factors on my blood tests.

A piece of my jewelry made to hang from the rear view mirror.



And herein lies a huge problem.


I didn't have Lupus, and the medication was making me miserable. Lyme is the Great Imitator. And that is one reason why so many are diagnosed so late. The CDC also believe that Lyme is difficult to catch and easy to cure with a month of doxycycline. Bless those people for whom that works. But if you have been harboring these bacteria in your body for who knows how long, well, God bless you, too.


So back to this particular SELF article "Are You A Target For Lyme".  As I read through the same stories I've heard over and over about people having no idea they'd even been bit, bold type hit me.



"Women are less likely to test positive and more likely to suffer symptoms longer."



That got my attention, and I wanted to share this magazine (June 2016, SELF) so you could get a new, focused article on women and Lyme disease.


In addition to the information in the article, the piece explains how to tick-proof yourself if you go camping or for a walk in the woods, something I've been afraid to do for four years. The article also helps you identify a tick on your body. This can be a challenge, as they are often the size of a poppy seed. Some people find them between their toes if they walk barefoot through the grass (I used to do that all the time!). If you find a tick, take a photo, put it in a baggie, and take it directly to your doctor IMMEDIATELY.  SELF also passes along the helpful website TickEncounter.org/tickspotters.


My personal advice (and warning) -- get thee to a doctor immediately and be prepared to be blown off. I say that because the CDC just does not agree with so much of the research that shows Lyme can be and often is chronic. To learn more, please watch the documentary "Under Our Skin" and you'll learn how politicized this disease is. I cried when I saw how the Zika virus was the focus on TIME magazine, and while I wouldn't wish ANY disease one anyone, I felt so marginalized. When, doctors, insurance companies, Big Pharma.... when?


Thank you so much, SELF magazine, for publishing articles such as this. It allows women from all walks of life to find information that seems to be so hidden in other publications.