Physicians and health professionals play an important role in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, but it should be agreed that every patient is the true expert regarding their own health, experience of disease, and well-being.
A Comprehensive Approach
Many physicians prescribe antibiotics for a tickborne infection, but if the illness is complex there are additional areas that may need to be addressed in treatment. These include: gastrointestinal function, liver function, detoxification, chronic inflammation, endocrine/hormonal dysfunction, Anxiety/Depression, neurological problems, fatigue, pain, immune system dysfunction, difficulty sleeping/insomnia, diet/lifestyle choices, relationships/social impact, cognitive difficulties, and exposure to environmental toxins.
Tick-borne infections – More than Lyme Disease
If you do not feel better after treatment for Lyme disease, or if your symptoms are severe, ask your doctor if you may have another tickborne infection. These include: Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI), Tularemia, Q-fever, Relapsing Fever, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Other infections that may impact your health and recovery include: Mycoplasmas, Chlamydias, Salmonellas, Leptospirosis, Chronic Viral Infections (including Herpes) and Bartonella infections.
Caring for a family member with complex Lyme disease can be extremely challenging. Many families experience:
- Difficulty finding treatment (and/or long commutes to physicians)
- Financial problems due to treatments not covered by health insurance, or job loss/reduced hours/disability
- Trouble making diet and lifestyle changes recommended by medical providers
- Difficulty planning ahead (due to the unpredictability of Lyme symptoms)
- Challenges explaining their diagnosis and illness to others
- Difficulty caring for children, or participating in community and social activities
Tickborne diseases may affect mental health, and for some people behavioral or cognitive problems are the only symptoms present of a tick-borne illness. Lyme disease has been shown to contribute to suicidality, and symptoms in children can mimic ADHD or learning disabilities, affecting classroom performance.
Treating Lyme and Tickborne diseases
It is important to find a health professional willing to participate in a partnership with you in the treatment of Lyme and other tickborne diseases. It is also important to be proactive about your health. Educate yourself about how to prevent and treat Lyme and tickborne diseases, and to the best of your ability, make lifestyle choices that support prevention and healing.
Resources for Financial Support
The Global Lyme alliance provides a list of resources for financial assistance.
Lyme-TAP (Lyme Test Access Program) is a FAP for diagnostic testing.
Lyme Light Foundation – offers grants for anyone diagnosed with Lyme disease through age 25 who can demonstrate a qualified financial need.
The Lyme Disease Association’s Lyme Aid 4 Kids program provides grants to eligible kids under 21 years of age.
VTLyme.org is in the process of developing a policy for listing treatment resources specific to Vermont. If you know of a resource that would be beneficial to individuals and families affected by Lyme disease please let us know.