It’s amazing the reactions of doctors when they hear that you’ve gotten positive blood test results for Lyme disease and two co-infections. Today, I had appointments with my rheumatologist and allergist, and both of them had something to say.
As a Lupus patient, Dr. T, my rheumatologist monitors my condition and prescribes the necessary medications to keep the Lupus flares at bay. Right now, she’s prescribed Plaquenil and Lyrica, and she has ordered weekly sessions of physical therapy and acupuncture. I’ve been working with Dr. T since December 2012.
My appointment with her today was a routine follow-up, eight weeks after my last one with her. Before we could discuss the usual things, like my lab results, she asked how the Lyme disease tests were going. I have been keeping her informed of everything.
I showed her the paperwork from IGenex Labs showing that I tested positive for the co-infections of Babesia protozoa and Bartonella bacteria, also known as cat scratch disease. She reviewed the test results and the actual values for IGM and IGG. IGM antibodies indicate a recent active infection, and IGG antibodies indicate an historic or chronic infection that the body has been fighting for a while.
With the Babesia, my IGM antibodies were positive, and my IGG antibodies were negative. With the Bartonella, my IGM antibodies were negative and my IGG antibodies were positive. The results were puzzling to her because I show no specific symptoms for either.
She even questioned the decision to have me tested for any of these in the first place. She said she would never have ordered the tests at all.
I told her that, based on her reaction and the reactions of my pulmonologist and hematologist last week, I feel like I’m caught in the middle of a tug of war between the two sides of the Lyme disease debate.
She apologized for what I’m going through, comparing it to her patients who fell victim to the whole “fungal infections” craze. She agreed with getting a second opinion with an infectious disease doctor, as my hematologist recommended.
Once I left the rheumatologist, I was off to see the allergist, who I hadn’t had to see in about a year. So, again, the appointment began with a breathing test to check for my lung function. I passed with flying colors, so he agreed that I could stop taking the Singulair. He was happy to hear that the Plaquenil was doing its job for the Lupus.
When I asked his opinion about my test results for Lyme disease and its co-infections, he gave me an interesting perspective. He reminded me that he was, for many years, a physician in the Air Force. During his years working all over the world, he treated many cases of Lyme disease. He said he even administered the Lyme disease vaccine before it was pulled off the market. That was a long time ago.
So, he said, he believes that Lyme disease exists, and that Lyme disease can cause immediate as well as long-term problems.
The problem now though, he said, is that patients are tested after having only very vague symptoms with no recollection or knowledge of a tick bite. The symptoms could be one of many possible disease processes, and those should be ruled out FIRST before going for the Lyme disease test. Besides, many people carry antibodies for diseases they never knew they had. Their bodies took care of it.
He gave the example of asking 100 high school students if they had mono. Eight or nine would them would raise their hands. But if you blood tested every one of the 100 students for mono, you would have very different results. About 80 percent of them would test positive for having mono antibodies even though they never knew they had the disease.
That’s how he sees the Lyme disease and co-infection debate. As with every disease, it’s always best to get two opinions if at all possible. In this case, he recommends getting the opinion from the other side of the Lyme disease aisle. The Lyme doctor, Dr. M, represents the ILADS perspective, and an infectious disease doctor represents the IDSA perspective.
So another vote for a second opinion. That makes four.
My allergist did say that if the infectious disease doctor agreed with the Lyme doctor in California, he didn’t see any problem combining the drugs that I currently take for Lupus with the treatment for Lyme disease. He’s had plenty of experience with treating patients with Lyme disease and other serious illnesses. That was good to know. Just in case.
What a day. I’m exhausted.