Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Lesson 885 – Lyme Disease Thursday – Status Week 7

By Wendythomas @wendyenthomas

Last week I wrote about how Doc Holiday wants our “Bart kids” (2 are being treated) to be on antibiotics for the life cycle of a red blood cell (120 days or roughly 5 months.) The reason for the change (it had previously been for 2-3 months and then a break to see how things were progressing) was because Lyme docs now believe that Bartonella “hides” parasite-like inside the red blood cells, and if you don’t continue treatment until *all* the red blood cells turn over then you risk re-infection (or more accurately continued infection.)

Bartonella in the blood

Bartonella in the blood

In doing some internet research on Bartonella, I found this little tidbit: “The Gram-negative bacterial genus Bartonella currently comprises roughly two dozen identified species, about half of which are known to infect humans.”

So there are roughly one dozen species of Bart that can affect humans and most docs, if asked what Bart was, would say it’s that yellow skinned boy on the Simpsons. It borders on criminal.

The other thing I discovered about Bartonella is that it is a gram-negative bacteria.  When looking at microscopic photos of it, it looks like small round balls. In the world of microbiology these are called Cocci. Another very famous and devastating gram-negative (diplo) cocci is Gonorrhea. I’m not sure that that means anything, but when people constantly (myself included) compare the Lyme spirochete to the Syphilis spirochete (another STD) I find it all very interesting.

See those little corkscrews?

See those little Lyme corkscrews?

Some of our most devastating illnesses have a lot in common.

Which would lead one (me) to believe that both Lyme and Bartonella *may* be sexually transmitted just like Syphilis and Gonorrhea. We already know that Lyme (and presumably Bart) can cross the brain and placental barriers; it would stand to reason that it would also be found in secretions, and saliva, wouldn’t it?

Oh my kingdom for a micro-scope.

In further related “research” work, I asked Doc Holiday about dog ticks vs. deer ticks. He told me that although he’s tried, he’s never been able to isolate the Lyme bacteria in dog ticks HOWEVER, please remember that deer ticks don’t just stay on deer and that a tick on a dog could very likely be a deer tick. Moral of the story, pay attention and treat all ticks as hostile agents (and also, remember that Doc Holiday is a doc and not a researcher.)

With regard to my week treating Lyme, I’m still struggling with the antibiotics. I have good days and then I have some bad ones, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern but I’ve resorted to drinking a bit of Coke (even though I don’t allow the kids to drink it) to settle my stomach when I get *that* feeling. I feel like I’m giving in to junk food but it works so I’m going to continue.

If ever there was a case of “do as I say and not as I do” with the kids this is one of them.

Even still, I can’t complain (and someone this week gave me a book with that very same title) a little bit of queasiness and some vomiting, is a small price to pay for such tremendous pain relief. Also, I fully expect my Lyme to come to an end (or at least be managed), there are so many people out there who are worse than I am. I think about them every day and send out healing wishes to the world. I am humbled by their struggles.

Interestingly I also had a conversation this week with a woman who works with a naturopath. Her son had also had Lyme (again we live in NH – pretty much everyone has this.) During our conversation another woman who was listening asked me how long I had had my Lyme infection.

That’s a great question.

I grew up in Connecticut, not far from the town of Lyme. We always had dogs and they always had ticks. Being bitten by a tick was as normal as being bitten by a mosquito.

Then I moved to New Hampshire and with dogs and hikes, ticks again were more normal than not. I started complaining of tendonitis, joint, and muscle pain two years ago, but it was a slow progression. I remember a summer “flu” that took me out for 3 days (and which no one else in the house got) 3 years ago. As far as I know, I’ve never had a bulls-eye rash until this summer (that mysterious “shingles” thing)

So who knows when I was infected? It’s possible I’ve carried Lyme for years and that something in the last few years triggered a reaction (perhaps the stress of a son who was close to dying because of Lyme complications?)

My point is that I think if your body is strong and healthy you *might* be able to hold Lyme back (just like you might be able to hold back many diseases), however, if you have some sort of weakness or systemic stress it’s going to pop out.  I personally think antibiotics are necessary for initially treating Lyme (but then as a clinical microbiologist what did you expect) but (and that should be “BUT” all in caps) I think that after you have been treated with antibiotics that you then need to build your body and immune system back up to keep things in check. I’m not convinced that years of treatment are what you need but then I fully admit that I’m not there. Ask me in a few months if I think only 3 months of treatment did the job.  Trust me, I might be hard-pressed to *not* go back on antibiotics if my symptoms returned.

I do, however think that if you have Lyme (or cancer, or any other disease) then you absolutely need to build up your immune system and body to allow your body to do its job in fighting the disease. Ideally you should have been doing this already before you even thought about taking a walk in the woods.

Supplements, good food, water, rest, and exercise.

It’s a tale as old as time, but one that we all seem to keep forgetting (just do yourself a favor and go easy on the Coke.)


Thank you all for your comments and discussion. I read every single reply and find much value in your experiences.

Disclaimer, this is an account of my Lyme symptoms and treatment, it is not intended to be used in the treatment of anyone else’s condition. Please consult and work with your physician if you think you may have Lyme.

Let me know if you have any questions about my Lyme symptoms and/or treatment, if I don’t have the answer, I’ll find someone who does.

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at [email protected]

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