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Taking a bite out of Lyme Disease – take the challenge




Dear editor:
Last week members from our Detachment (Dufferin OPP) participated in the Lyme Challenge, which is based on a concept similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The purpose of the Lyme Disease Challenge is to raise awareness and funding for improved Lyme Disease diagnosis and treatment. Participants essentially donate money, then take a bite out of a lime while photos or video are used to capture the before and during images; then the photos and a message about Lyme Disease is posted on social media outlets to raise awareness.
Lyme disease is something that I have personally been dealing with since 2013, however it was not until March 2015 that I finally started treatment. Lyme disease has had a profound impact on my personal and professional life. For this reason I put together the Lyme Challenge – Take a Bite Out of Lime!
Over the last one and a half years I have undergone nine MRI scans, CT scans, x-rays and a slew of neurological testing. I have been to five different hospitals and attended countless doctor's appointments with neurologists, rheumatologists and even a psychiatrist (when my family doctor thought this was “all in my head”). I have pages and pages of blood test results in my medical file. All of this due to numbness and tingling on the left side of my body, specifically my arm and leg. I have disturbances with my sleep and have difficulty with balance. My speech has been affected, where I am often left searching for common words. My writing skills have suffered and my memory has temporary gaps. Pain invades my joints and rotates from my hands to knees, to my back and head. Exhaustion forced me to take over two months off work. During that time my greatest daily accomplishment was being able to shower and get dressed. Unless one has experienced this level of extreme fatigue, it is often incomprehensible to the average person.
In October 2013 a lesion was detected in my brain. As a result, doctors were focused on Multiple Sclerosis. After several neurological tests came back within the normal range, the focus then shifted to an autoimmune disorder such as Lupus. Due to the medical focus of MS and Lupus, my Lyme disease went untreated.
After speaking to a colleague who had a friend who suffered from Lyme, I went down the road of exploring Lyme myself. It is a lonely process void of any medical assistance. I had arguments with my family physician and broke down in tears out of pure frustration that no one was listening to me. After inconclusive tests results for MS and autoimmune disorders, doctors then entertained a possible diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. I did have the ELISA blood test for Lyme, but it came back negative. That was as far as doctors were willing to go with Lyme. In Ontario, you have to test positive for the ELISA before doctors will order a Western Blot – which is much more detailed. The ELISA test carries a 30 per cent reliability, there are so many people who never get any further than the first blood test. In my experience, the Health Care system is focused on making a diagnostic diagnosis and not a clinical one. I have since educated myself and been able to get the treatment I need. My support has been family, friends and other Lyme patients; not my family physician or our Health Care System.
On March 23, 2015 I saw an Infectious Disease Specialist in London, Ontario - that is when I finally reached the turning point in my journey. A doctor who listened to me, someone who put all the pieces together and prescribed 30 days of antibiotic treatment via a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter). I have finished my IV treatment and am currently completing 30 days antibiotic medication for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is another tick borne infectious disease that I tested positive for. So many Lyme patients are forced to go to the United States for diagnosis and treatment, taking carriage of extremely expensive medical procedures. Other than paying out of pocket for a Western Blot blood test from California, I am so very fortunate to have been able to get treatment in Ontario, in the very place which I caught the infectious disease.
My journey has had an impact on my family, friends, colleagues and career. I feel it is important to share some facts about Lyme Disease and to raise money for improved testing and treatment. If I can help to raise awareness about Lyme disease, then perhaps what happened to me, doesn't happen to others.
I am by no means a doctor, I am not a nurse and I am not an infectious disease specialist – I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend and a police officer who has gone through this journey. My goal is to spread awareness and educate others on how to prevent this debilitating disease.
PC Krista Convey
Domestic Violence
Coordinator
Dufferin County OPP

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