The short: this post is a summary of the mechanics of Lyme and how it contributes to chronic illness. I am not a doctor or scientist. I write from my own research and experiences.
So, What’s the Deal with Lyme?
People usually think of Lyme disease as: you were bitten by a tick so now you have this single infection called borrelia burgdorferi, and a round of antibiotics will take care of it for good. (I will refer borellia burgdorferi as just “Lyme” to save myself a lot of typing and to save you a lot of reading). And in case you didn’t see this coming: Lyme isn’t nearly that simple. If it was, there wouldn’t be thousands of people disabled by and dying from it. The really hip Lyme people also know that, more likely than not, when you picked up “Lyme,” some nasty co-infections like Bartonella, Babiesia, and Ehrlichia probably tagged along.
So now, you not only have true Lyme as well as several co-infections from that tick/mosquito/flea bite, but your body is also about to undergo a butt-load of secondary problems at the hands of those infections. First off, Lyme knocks out your immune system, so then you are more susceptible to infections than your average, healthy person is. And I’m talking so many infections. Your average, untreated Lymie is likely walking around (or crawling around) with:
- Parasites (I know it sounds gross, but they are more common than you’d think)
- Bacterial infections like E. coli, H. pylori, reoccurring Strep, and resistant Staph/MRSA
Viral infections like Herpes/HSV-1 (aka. the thing that causes cold sores), reoccurring mononucleosis, and Human papillomavirus/HPV (aka. that thing that causes those innocent looking plantar warts and those not-so-innocent cases of cervical cancer)
Because a Lymie’s immune system doesn’t work properly anymore, infections that the body of your average person would fend off, that most healthy people have in their system (like HSV-1 and HPV) become a really big problem. Not to mention, over time these free-roaming infections wreak havoc on body systems like the immune system, the gastrointestinal system, the nervous system, and the liver and other organs involved in body detoxification.
Subsequently, damage to these systems then causes the tissues to hold on to even more viruses, bacteria, and other environmental toxins such as heavy metals and molds that would normally be shuttled out of a healthy body. Basically, the once-functioning human body becomes a cesspool of toxins, and things quickly start to break down.
Why do Some People Get so Sick from a Tick Bite When Others Don’t?
The short answer:
because life isn’t fair, that’s why.
The long answer:
the theory goes that a lot of people are actually walking around with a little bit of the Lyme bacteria in their system as the result of a bite from an infected deer tick, spider, mosquito, etc. But, most of those people will not develop “Lyme disease” as we know it, because they have some genetic and biological advantages on their side, as well as some decent luck, apparently. A lot of people technically have Lyme but it doesn’t cause them any worse for wear until their immune system buckles for some other reason. Many Lymies report being bitten by a tick but not developing major symptoms until a decade later when they came down with a case of mono. Then, the floodgates of illness were broken and all kinds of other infections and ailments came crashing down on them. You see, it takes a very specific set of circumstances to weaken the body, such as: a genetic “cocktail” that predisposes a person to detox poorly, a bout of intense emotional or psychological stress, and physical stressors like overworking your body or acquiring other viruses that then cripple the immune system. Those who fall victim to Lyme usually have a “perfect storm” of genetic issues and life stressors that brings them to develop the full-blown disease.
This theory explains the phenomena that some people seem to be healthy all their lives, while other unfortunate souls seem to get any and every physical problem that one could have. It seems that the healthy usually stay that way most of their lives and the sick usually just get sicker until they find the right medical intervention. It isn’t fair, but it is the truth.
Well, congratulations, you made it through another Spoonie-related post! I do not intend for this to be a Lyme-focused blog, but I felt that I should cover this topic right off the bat to educate those who aren’t familiar with this illness and what it can do. But fear not, there are many lighthearted and positive posts coming your way, stay tuned!
Thanks for the read,
Em the Silver Spoonie