Tuesday, March 20, 2012

For 15 years I went from doctor to doctor before finally being diagnosed with Lyme Disease and getting proper treatment. Part of my healing process was to paint a series of self-portraits about the disease and my process. I have finally a venue at my church to show these works and will open a show on Dec. 2 with my good friend, Adelyn Cooper, fabulous portrait artist, at the Bay Area Unitarian/Universalist Church.
This portrait I painted showing my frustration over feeling so terrible all the time and not finding a doc that could really help. First I was told I had Chronic Fatique Syndrome. Then maybe Lupus. But then got worse and my heart starting going crazy. I was so tired I could scarcely carry on a conversation and ached all over. Luckily I remembered someone telling me about an infectious disease clinic in Houston. The first thing I was asked after looking at my symptoms was had I ever been a camper. Oh yes, many times. Thank God for Dr. William Harvey, a victim of and a specialist in Lyme Disease who led me through the months of recovery. I continue to have a compromised immune system and an irratic heart but considered myself cured and so lucky.
Lyme Disease has many symptoms and is frequently misdiagnosed. I met some patients in wheel chairs, others had fallen down with seizures, others had cognitive impairment. This disease goes through generations as the borelia bacteria is carried in the placenta. It is not only carried by ticks but also by birds and research shows that it is also sexually transmitted. Testing is more conclusive now and is usually done through blood and/or urine. Treatment is done with heavy duty antibiotics. Some patients are known to go into Chronic Lyme Disease where even though testing does not show evidence of the bacteria, symptoms reoccur.
 Having Lyme Disease is like being the canary in the mine.  Thus the portrait below.
If you are bitten by a tick and a red rash appears around the bite, run, do not walk to a doctor, preferably one informed about Lyme Disease. Believe me, not all of them are.

No comments: