Lyme Disease: Losing Control of Life
If Lyme disease goes undiagnosed—or isn’t treated long enough—it can bankrupt businesses and destroy whole careers.
A CEO of an insurance company was diagnosed with Lyme disease and given antibiotics—but he didn’t take them long enough. Months later, his symptoms returned with a vengeance. He had ghoulish nightmares and woke up drenched. At work, he felt anxious and couldn’t concentrate. Eventually he forgot everything he’d learned about insurance. When he neglected to send in a disability payment on his own policy, the company denied his claim. “This man lost tens of thousands of dollars that would have helped him through his illness,” say Raxlen. “In the end, he had to sell his building and disband his business.”
People with Lyme disease often have trouble keeping up with ordinary tasks—one Connecticut housewife walked into the library, dumped her dry cleaning on the counter, and waited with increasing irritation for an attendant to help her. Finally a friend walked up and asked, “Don’t you know where you are?”
Lyme disease can also affect the part of the brain that deals with signs and symbols—making it hard to read maps or drive from place to place. A real estate agent with Lyme disease stopped at a traffic light. When the signal turned green she didn’t move. An angry motorist yelled, “What’s the matter with you. Why can’t you go on the green?” The woman replied, “I’ve forgotten what green means.”
“Lyme produces a microedema, or swelling in the brain,” says Raxlen. “This affects your ability to process information. It’s like finding out that there’s LSD in the punch, and you’re not sure what’s going to happen next or if you’re going to be in control of your own thoughts.”
ILADS physicians say these symptoms can be alleviated or reversed with antibiotics, but stress that Lyme disease must be diagnosed early and treated right away.
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