Thursday, 14 April 2011

Do You Know about Lyme Disease?

My friend Marlene, one of the Ladies-Over-The-Water has been battling Lyme Disease for the last four years and having to battle Canada's medical community for the right to be helped.

It seems that some of Canada's medical profession are so determined that "there is no Lyme Disease in Canada" that they will sue and hound out of the profession those doctors who are willing to treat it.

What is Lyme Disease? It comes from the bite of a tick. There is a typical bullseye rash - a red spot ringed by normal coloured skin with an outer ring rash.

Marlene's summary in her own words from her web site:

Infected Date: August 2007: I was taking pictures and was bitten by something, but did not pay much attention, thinking it was a spider.

Place: Near Picton, Ontario: Taking pictures of Dragon Boat Races in Bloomfield, in pretty Prince Edward County.

Diagnosis: Years later, Feb. 2010: Been sent from doctor to specialist to test to ER over months, with various diagnoses, medications and getting sicker.

Symptoms: Early on, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, headache, low-grade fever, stiff neck, knee pain. A rash appeared a week after the bite, but I did not connect the two, only took pictures.

Problem: Doctors are not trained to look for Lyme disease; there are no conclusive tests; in Canada, many doctors refuse to admit it exists.

Treatment: In March 2010, I started antibiotic treatment, which has to be long-term to have any effect. Things started improving and I was optimistic and grateful.

Update: On March 17, 2011 - abandoned by the Ontario Health Care System, because of a complaint against the specialist for "treating something which does not exist in Canada."

Result: Infections coming back, symptoms becoming noticeable, quality of life affected.

May is Lyme Awareness month: Please be aware of Lyme disease, that it is the fastest spreading infection in North America, and that everyone is vulnerable, even in their own back yards or city parks. How many more people have to be sick, disabled or even dying before something is done to protect patients and the doctors treating them?

Simple precautions can be taken, like wearing insect repellent with DEET, or using lemon and eucalyptus creams. Check for bites. Pay attention to symptoms. If found early, antibiotic treatment can prevent long-lasting symptoms and damage to organs. Fight for doctors to be aware, and for parks to put up warnings and information! Knowledge is power.

Now when Marlene said she had antibiotics, she meant having an intravenous drip - a bag permanently attached to her arm. The side effects sounded horrendous. However, she was starting to feel the benefit when her treatment was withdrawn due to the threat of litigation against her specialist.

Anyone travelling to North America needs to be aware of this and to check themselves and children for ticks, particularly following a walk through grass. See the Canadian CanLyme Association web pages for more details.

There's a month of walks and rallies going on in May across Canada and in America, Amanda has arranged a rallying walk in Virginia Beach on May 21.

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