I’ve had a pregnancy where I carried ONE baby and then a pregnancy where I carried THREE babies. I also had a pregnancy in between – where I carried only one baby. With the first pregnancy I developed complications and developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation (there’s a 10% chance of this happening when you go through Invitro Fertilization). With my second pregnancy, I miscarried after a well visit (where I was told everything was fine – there was only a 16% chance that I would miscarry this far along). With the triplet pregnancy, the doctors convinced us to transfer three embryos instead of two (there was only a 1% chance that all three would survive). So when I learned that ticks can carry more than one disease, I should have known that with my history – I’d get the double whammy or possible the triple threat.
But for some strange reason, I was surprised when at my Lyme doctor appointment last night, I was told that the majority of my symptoms are now from the Bartonella bacteria – a Lyme coinfection. They came to this conclusion because immediately after stopping my fourth month of oral antibiotics, my symptoms came back hard core. The Lyme bacteria takes 6 weeks to reproduce, so if it was Lyme I was feeling, I would have been fine for at least a few weeks. So, since I felt crappy right away, it had to be something else. And my bloodwork initially showed traces of Bartonella.
So, here’s a little Bartonella 101 for all of us:
Bartonella is spread by bites from infected ticks and in utero and by dust mites.
- stretch mark-like rash
- Bartonella Rash
- abnormal liver enzymes
- encephalopathy (means disorder or disease of the brain)
- endocarditis ( inflammation of the inner layer of the heart)
- flu-like malaise
- hemolysis with anemia (destruction of blood cells)
- hepatomegaly (the condition of having an enlarged liver)
- high fever
- immune deficiency
- lymphadenopathy (disease of lymph nodes)
- myalgias (muscle pain)
- myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle)
- papular or angiomatous rash
- somnolence (sleepiness)
- sore throat
- splenomegaly (enlargement of spleen)
- weakened immune response
Bartonella are bacteria that live within cells and find humans quite cozy. The Bartonella-Lyme coinfection is apparently one of the most complex and troublesome confections (no! what are the chances?).
The infection grows once it reaches the bloodstream by using its tail-like flagellum to seek out and burrow into the red blood cells. There it replicates by releasing a molecule which helps produce more of its kind. (yay for me!)
An infected person with a healthy immune system may have minor symptoms that disappear in a short time, while the immunocompromised may have high numbers of bacteria that persist in the blood and tissues and cause ongoing symptoms. This is often the case with people who have Lyme disease and other Lyme confections. (that’s me!)
The difficulty in finding a suitable treatment protocol for Lyme disease co-infection Bartonella, comes from the fact that antibiotics slow down its reproduction process, but are unlikely to kill the infection. I also learned that Bartonella hides inside the erythrocytes or red blood cells. This, combined with an already weakened immune system, complicates treatment. I should also be on the look out for borreliosis, candida and HHV-6 other chronic-lyme-disease-coinfections.
All that being said, I’m on a new regiment of 15 or so pills a day. Two of them being brand new antibiotics aiming to kill the Bartonella buggers. As with all medication there are some side affects. One of them just so happens to be that all of my bodily fluids will turn RED. Urine, saliva, tears . . . . apparently my eyes are actually going to turn my contact lenses pink!
I’ve always been optimistic, but I never thought there would be any reality behind the saying Seeing the world through rose colored glasses.
So, I hope you learned a thing or two about Lyme and Bartonella by reading this. And if not maybe this horror story will make it worth your time . . . my hubby (renowned for teasing and busting chops on a daily basis) told me that he was going to tell the kids that the doctors made a mistake with my diagnosis. I didn’t have Lyme disease after all, but it may be something else completely. But there would be only one way to know for sure . . . if mommy’s eyes turn RED it’s not Lyme . . . she’s a demon!
I know! He’s the evil one! But anyway, what I have learned through this particular bout is that it’s okay to NOT be okay, that most of the times when it storms it’s dark and cloudy – it’s very rare to see a sun shower (in jersey anyway), and that no matter what, I am weak, but Christ strengthens me. I’m going to have good days and I’m going to have bad days. But I know that my husband, my friends, my family and my God will get me through it.