Posts Tagged ‘Lyme disease’

If you need help, reach out! And tell friends and family members who need help to do the same

Monday, September 30th, 2013

I chose the subject for this post because of what a former classmate, whom I’ll call Bill, told me at my high school reunion last month. We shared with each other what we had done since we graduated several decades ago. I learned that he had become a chemist. When I told him that I had left my career in engineering behind and for the last 11 years had been helping people with the emotional challenges of living with chronic illnesses, his expression changed noticeably.

Bill shared with me that his son Mark had been in a Ph.D. program at a prestigious university, but before completing the program had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. He also had other debilitating symptoms due to another illness that doctors had been unable to identify.

Mark tried his absolute best to keep up with his heavy academic load, but was not able to do so. The reality that he would not be able to complete his degree was devastating for him, especially because he had almost no one to turn to for emotional support. He was close to his parents, but they were 3,000 miles away.

Sadly, Mark took his own life.

Bill told me his son’s suicide was the most painful experience he had ever gone through. As a parent myself, I had no doubt that it was. He added that there is a part of himself that will never get over it.

One of the aspects of suicide that makes it especially painful for those who loved the person who committed it is that it can almost always be prevented, usually fairly easily, if people know it’s being contemplated.

While chronic illnesses like Lyme disease can’t always be cured, with the right caring support, people with them can virtually always have better lives. And knowing that there are others who truly care about how physically and emotionally difficult it is to live with a chronic illness has a big positive effect, just by itself.

But sometimes, as in Mark’s case, unless they are told, others don’t know how difficult living with the the physical and emotional pain of a chronic illness is.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people who are living with chronic illnesses and don’t get the support they need, don’t commit suicide. But like Mark, many of them have decided that others don’t care, and they don’t ask for or seek out the support they need.

If you are one, please start asking and seeking. There are people who care (I’m one), but you’re unlikely to find them until you do.

Best wishes in your search and quest to have the best life possible. And please share this post with others who need support and care, but aren’t reaching out for it.

Highly recommended book: Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I send out bi-weekly tips for living well with a chronic illness to people who sign up for my free report, and for one of my October tips I wrote about a former client who had chronic fatigue syndrome. A woman wrote back to ask me to let my former client know about the book Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic by Pamela Weintraub. I did that and I also got the book myself, and have just finished reading it.

In the book, the author recounts her family’s harrowing ordeal with Lyme disease that began after their 1993 move from New York City to a nice house next to the woods about 50 miles away.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you have or know someone who has Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The author makes a very convincing case that Lyme and other tick-born diseases are often misdiagnosed as one of those other illnesses.

The following excerpt was especially eye-opening for me: “Even the campus green at Brown University, surrounded by city streets near downtown Providence, had Lyme ticks: One friend sitting on the green had pulled a tick from her leg only to find, a short time later, an erythema migrans* in that very spot. She later tested positive for Lyme disease.”

I have a friend who was diagnosed with lupus not long after she attended Brown about 25 years ago, so I couldn’t help but wonder when I read those two sentences if my friend’s lupus and other health problems are actually due to Lyme disease. I sent my friend an email with a brief summary of the book. If she decides to be tested for Lyme, I will write about her diagnosis, treatments, and results in future posts.

As the author describes the devastating symptoms, the progress, and the setbacks she, her husband, and their two sons experienced from Lyme and other tick-born illnesses, she makes it strikingly clear how serious and complex these diseases are. But what made the ordeal many times worse for them and countless others was the turf wars that continue to rage within the medical community. They pitted doctor against doctor and doctors against government agencies, and resulted in some doctors whom patients felt were the only ones treating their illness effectively either stopping treating Lyme patients or risking losing their medical licenses.

The author was able to cure her Lyme disease, and her husband eventually recovered and stayed relatively well as long as he continued to take his medication. At the time Weintraub completed the book, one of her sons had recovered, been re-infected, and had recovered again, and the other was finally regaining his health after being gravely ill. She had much more to say, but I don’t want to spoil the ending for you.

* Erythema migrans is the name given to the rash, frequently target like, that often appears after a person is bitten by an infected tick.