The ticking time bomb

By Lorri Cousens | May 25, 2019

I have a story that needs to be told. We are fighting for our lives and most don't know it. Like everything uncomfortable, we don't want to think about it. I am hoping that my struggles can save you.

We live in such a beautiful place, and after such a long, cold, dreary season inside, are anxious to get outside. But that's when we get into trouble.

The ticks are waiting and there's more of them all the time. We've always had dogs and have treated them with products to combat ticks. I've always reminded (and nagged) my husband and kids to remember the tick repellent. They're lobstermen and spend a lot of time outside getting their traps and buoys ready to go in the water.

We've found ticks on us at various times through the years and have usually contacted the doctor and gone on doxycycline for a few days and thought we were all set. Some doctors said to just look for a bullseye, or don't worry about it, if the tick wasn't attached to you for very long.

I'm here to tell you that that is not true.

I am living proof of that. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease almost two years ago. I always spent a lot of time outdoors - working in the garden, walking the dogs and enjoying the sunny, warm weather. Then everything changed.

I woke up one morning and felt like I'd been run over by a train. I had chills, a bad headache, neck pain and extreme fatigue. I though I had the flu and called the doctor. I was put on doxycyclene immediately and had some tests done. Later on I found out I had Lyme disease, so I continued with the doxycyclene for a month. Slowly, I got my energy back and felt fine within six weeks. I became more aware of ticks and spent less time in the woods.

Slowly, my body was telling me that something was wrong. I ached more, I had a creaky neck that hurt, I had joint pain that seemed to be really bad in one place, then it would go away. I'd always been a poor sleeper, but that got worse, too.

I had no idea that Lyme and co-infections were still in my system. I wish I had known then what I know now. I started having jaw pain, sinus trouble, TMJ pain, problems with my tongue position in my mouth, and my hands, feet, arms and legs started zinging and going numb.

I couldn't believe how old and sore I suddenly felt. I went to numerous doctors to try to get answers. I had many labs done, three MRIs, CAT scans and various therapies, but nothing seemed to help. I was on muscle relaxants, nerve blockers, a lot of Advil, and I spent all day on the couch. I had pounding headaches, mouth pressure, pain in my teeth and gums, and throbbing neck pain. My face hurt, it pushed to one side, my whole palate felt like it was in the wrong place, and my jaw ached constantly.

I meditated, prayed and wished that I wouldn't wake up. I couldn't do anything but sit or lie on the couch all day. It hurt to keep my head up and to talk.

So I researched and started reading about Lyme and co-infections. I had five standard Lyme tests with various doctors, and they all came back negative.

I read about Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education online and found a list of Lyme-literate practitioners. One month ago, I finally went to my appointment. My life changed that day. I showed the doctor all of my records, lab tests, images, etc. She listened and asked a lot of questions. She said she was used to getting people who had been round and round and had been to many specialists. She ordered testing that was much more comprehensive and through.

My tests came back two weeks later. I have active Lyme and Babesia Duncani. I started on antibiotics and various herbal formulas. Within two days, my debilitating headaches stopped. I was able to get off all of my pain medcations.

Unfortunately, I've had this stuff ravaging around in my body for at least a few years now, so treatment will take longer. But now I know what I'm fighting and I'm determined to win -- and to educate others by sharing my story.

I'm telling you not to give up. There is always hope and it's worth it to get things figured out. Find a Lyme-literate practitioner and get tested.

And if you do find a tick on you, save it, and send it in to be tested. It costs $15 and they can tell you what infections the tick is carrying. The address and the list of Lyme practitioners is on the MLDSE website.

Lorri Cousens lives in South Thomaston.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Susan Vanorse | May 28, 2019 15:59

My daughter went through the same thing with local doctors three years ago almost exactly as you, they said she did not have Lyme,  she went to a specialist out of state to finally get diagnosed, she has two co-infections, it's a battle every day mostly because of the time it took to get a diagnosis. She still fights symptoms to this day, I hope your treatment goes well for you. It is extremely disheartening to know that some of the local doctors can't properly diagnose tick borne diseases properly. The medical community needs to step it up locally, how many more people are out there suffering this horrible infection. Again good luck to you sounds like you are on the right path.

Posted by: Ananur Forma | May 26, 2019 15:08

VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION SHARED HERE.  Those tiny little ticks do serious harm.

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