How long have you had Lyme disease? What were/are your symptoms?
I was 29 and pregnant with my third son at the time of the tick bite. Early into my pregnancy, 13 years ago, I knew very little about Lyme disease and didn’t think a whole lot about the tick until I began feeling unwell. At which time I brought it up to my doctors and nurses and none thought much of it. I was never tested, treated, or made to understand the severity of Lyme throughout my entire pregnancy.
Although I didn’t get the bulls-eye rash, I did end up with flu-like symptoms a few weeks later. It went downhill from there, with extreme fatigue and pain, mixed with a variety of symptoms that included: bells palsy, brain fog, tics, and convulsions, nearly passing out a few times, and so on. It wasn’t until two years later that I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease and, unfortunately, a few months after that my toddler was diagnosed with Lyme as well.
I started out in traditional medical treatment with a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor, loads of antibiotics, and
other pharmaceuticals, for about 4 years. Which did get me more well than I was before I treatment. However, it was hard on my body, and I knew, if this was going to be a long battle, which it has been, I wanted an easier option for my body. I’ve since been in Naturopathic care with herbs and supplements for several years. Along with Lyme disease and the symptoms that came along with it for me, like fatigue, brain fog, and pain, I’ve also been diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) chronic migraine, ulcer, and iron deficiency.
How did Covid affect your Lyme disease?
I got Covid-19 at the end of July. At first, I thought it was just a weird summer flu-bug but within a day I suspected Covid. I began feeling strangely nauseous, ran a low-grade fever, soon lost my smell, and was crushed with fatigue and weak muscles. Covid-19 seemed to exacerbate my Lyme disease symptoms. The fatigue and weak muscles, brain fog and depression that I had delt with for years due to Lyme disease, and co-infections, were suffocating with Covid-19. I couldn’t do much of anything but lay in bed, sleep, or take hot soothing baths while the virus ravaged my already sick with Lyme body.
I had a difficult time breathing, talking, walking, and doing the basics required in daily life. I couldn’t take my kids to school, I couldn’t make dinners, I couldn’t stand for longer than a few minutes, and I couldn’t walk up the stairs to my kid’s bedrooms. It was extreme and it was bad. I would wake with night sweats so thick I’d be drenched with sweat and the burning pain in my lungs when I breathed or coughed, was not only painful, but scary when I let myself get into fear.
I believe that my already compromised body was one reason why I was a Covid-19 patient that got hit hard with the virus. My body has been fighting a never-ending battle for over a decade, and Covid was just the icing on that bitter cake. My Naturopath also suspects I now may be dealing with long-haul Covid as well. In addition to lingering upticks of fatigue, and pain, and lack of stamina, I’ve lost roughly 50% or so of my hair. Which, as you can imagine has been quite difficult to experience and to see the clumps of hair falling out.
What has this time been like for you living through a pandemic with Lyme?
Because I’m chronically ill with quite significant fatigue, life-altering pain, and migraines, my life has already been subject to staying home more than healthy people. I already worked from home prior to this pandemic and my favorite activities were the same I could still do doing lockdown, which revolved around being outdoors with my kids.
I would say that mentally it affected me more than physically. My depression and anxiety increased. I worried about our near-future and our long-far-down-the-road future. My husband was temporarily laid-off, and that was scary as well. I was worried for my children, and sad for their life disruptions. It was a very hard time mentally and emotionally and I know Lyme didn’t help matters because I already faced those symptoms on the daily prior to Covid-19 because of my Lyme sick body.
Have your friends/family been understanding and supportive of your health concerns during this time?
My husband has been very supportive of me throughout the entirety of my illness. And during the pandemic, he didn’t make me feel bad about my emotional and mental upset and worries. In fact, not only was he empathetic, but I’d also say he shared some of my fear, which made me feel less alone.
One piece of advice for others regarding Lyme and Covid?
I might suggest that you speak to your doctor about the vaccine and find out any other suggestions they may have in preventing Covid-19 or treating it if you catch the virus. Don’t white knuckle your way through the virus if you catch it. Talk to your doctor(s) and see what they may suggest in helping you through it, right away.
I would also suggest reaching out for help as soon as you need it. I reached out for help from my ND and MD to treat the symptoms and the virus as best they could. I also reached out for help from my wonderful in-laws, and husband, who helped cook for me, took kids where they needed to be, and literally did everything so I could just sleep and recover.
I know not everyone is that fortunate to have a team of people helping you through. I hope if you get sick with Covid-19 you will have doctors and a support system to help you through, though.
Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. Nell Taliercio is sharing her COVID-19 and Lyme disease journey. If you have questions, email us below.