Singer/songwriter Debbie Gibson wants fans to know that she is not anorexic. She has lost a lot of weight over the past year because she has Lyme Disease.
Gibson outlined the course of the disease on her website. She began experiencing anxiety in the Spring of 2013, quickly followed by food sensitivities. “I found I could not touch sugar, starch, caffeine, certain oils, etc., without having a severe reaction that felt like jolts of electricity running through my body. I felt like a live wire. Talk about ‘Electric Youth!’”
This was followed by nerve pain, muscle fatigue and back pain. She began to wonder if she had mono and her doctor tested her for a variety of diseases. No diagnosis yet…
Debbie went on to have feelings of numbness and tingling in her hands and feet as well as night sweats, chills, fever, nerve tremors, nightmares, and migraine headaches.
“During the next several months, I would continue to cycle in and out of this flu like state and my doctors, unable to see me in person due to my touring schedule, would deduce by phone I had H Pylori or maybe an upper respiratory infection. I was put on Z paks, Amoxicillin and Dixilant. These combos of meds made me feel considerably better. But I would only stay on a typical 10-day course.”
Because she couldn’t tolerate sugars or starch, Gibson ate more fat in an attempt to gain weight. But instead of the desired effect, it affected her gallbladder and almost had to have it removed.
Discouraged by her “gaunt and deleted” appearance, she saw a dermatologist who suggested Botox injections to “cover the lines and signs of what was going on.” Five days later, she appeared confused, was mixing up her words, had numbness and tingling in hands and feet and increasingly frequent tremors.
She was eventually referred to a gastroenterology, Dr. Rahbar (LA Integrative GI), who tested her for Lyme Disease. All the tests came back positive! She was then treated with daily IV Vitamin drips, acupuncture, and an “intense regime of antibiotics and other medications. ”
Gibson says she is slowly getting better:
“I actually feel like me again. We all face challenges and I am learning much from the ones I am facing. No disease in the body can keep the spirit from soaring, the love from pouring, and nothing can stop the music!”
Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The black-legged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States, and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.
Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.
The symptoms of Lyme Disease can be divided into four stages:
Not all people get the erythema migrans rash. General symptoms may be the only evidence of infection. Some people get a small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that goes away in 1-2 days, like a mosquito bite.
Untreated, the infection may spread from the site of the bite to other parts of the body, producing an array of specific symptoms that may come and go, including:
Additional EM lesions in other areas of the body
Many of these symptoms will resolve over a period of weeks to months, even without treatment. However, lack of treatment can result in additional complications, described below.
Approximately 60% of patients with untreated infection may begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees.
Up to 5% of untreated patients may develop chronic neurological complaints months to years after infection. These include shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with short-term memory.
Approximately 10-20% of patients with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics. These symptoms can include muscle and joint pains, cognitive defects, sleep disturbance, or fatigue. The cause of these symptoms is not known, but there is no evidence that these symptoms are due to ongoing infection with B. burgdorferi. This condition is referred to as Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). There is some evidence that PTLDS is caused by an autoimmune response, in which a person’s immune system continues to respond, doing damage to the body’s tissues, even after the infection has been cleared. Studies have shown that continuing antibiotic therapy is not helpful and can be harmful for persons with PTLDS.
Lyme disease is diagnosed based on:
Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC.
Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil and are given for a period of two to four weeks. Patients with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid contact with deer ticks, especially during the summer months when infections are most common. Other useful tips: