My battle with Lyme disease has largely been characterized by symptom flares that wax and wane as the months go by. The downward spiral always begins with a sore throat, followed by a multitude of other unpleasant symptoms. The latest downturn lasted for two weeks, and this time I felt so sick that I had to take time off from work. I had not felt so sick for many months; lately, I’ve been able to work through the rough patches. Being restricted to bed rest again was emotionally devastating. It is devastating to feel like you’ve made progress only to once again be cast back into the pit. It is devastating to have to climb out of that pit again and again, knowing that this will not be the last time.
I’ve been tested for all of the tick-borne co-infections that commonly occur with Lyme disease, and only the tests for Lyme and Anaplasma came back positive. My Bartonella test came back negative despite my having many of the classic Bartonella symptoms. This week my doctor diagnosed me with Bartonella based on my symptoms. He told me that there are many strains of Bartonella (as well as “Bartonella-like organisms”), and that one can have a negative test and yet experience improvement after being treated for Bartonella. I started a new combination of antibiotics, and I am hopeful that this might be the missing piece in my recovery.
For now, at least, I’m feeling much better. I was able to resume field work this week and I successfully completed two days of point count surveys (surveys for birds), one of which involved hiking for three miles. This is very encouraging, and I’m hopeful that I will continue to improve and soon become fully functional again. I’m already planning my next backpacking trip. At work, I’m making plans for additional bird surveys. I feel like I’m returning to life after being plunged into darkness.
The journey through Lyme disease is a long and painful experience. If you are walking this road I wish you the very best of luck, for ours is not an easy path. Even though it is sometimes excruciating to put one foot in front of the other, it must be done. Keep walking. Keep fighting. Never give up!