“Visiting Ashford Castle in England last May, I sensed something was wrong with me,” recalls our Los Angeles Marine Corporal Douglas Banker, who served in the front lines during the Gulf War.
The next day, he and best friend, Princess Lilly Fallah Lawrence flew to Dublin when he realized the “something wrong” kept resurfacing and seemed serious.
“We rushed to an ER in Dublin, waited eight hours, with no satisfaction.
“Our next stop was the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. The hotel doctor suggested I was in an inflammatory state, and prescribed antibiotics for three days, extended them for four more days.
“Not to worry, he comforted … best to rest.
“In Los Angeles, we hurried to our local doctors, who arranged tests, then deciding that I was suffering from anxiety and depression from my military service.
“But I was frightened. Fighting pain. Never in my life had I endured such pain.
“Also awful brain fog.
“In a wild moment of hope, we visited a chiropractor to no avail.
“I could not keep food down, continued losing weight and feeling hopelessly weak and useless.
“Again, there was talk of anxiety and depression, dating back to the Gulf War.
“The doctors were eager to help. Lilly worried that we had exhausted ‘all the ologists’ … cardiologists, pulmonologists, neurologists, ophthamologists, and more.
“Months passed, I became weaker and weaker, crying to myself at home while I was on a daily IV.
“Again, no specific diagnoses.
“Until … more than six months ago we visited Dr. Richard Wulfsberg, at Cedars-Sinai who brought in Dr. Melvin Khaw.
“Tests began anew. Days passed before they delivered the news that I was suffering from Lyme disease. My heart jumped with joy in their office, knowing that – finally! – I was properly diagnosed, and, that I was not crazy. Thank you, God.
“Lilly discovered that many doctors do not test for Lyme disease because they do not know how to treat it.
“Lyme disease is not contagious, the doctors assured me, but a very difficult disease to treat.
“Treatments began, and what I learned, above all, is that the greatest virtue in my situation is patience and to never give up.”
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick.
The symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, malaise, and “bull’s eye” rash.
If untreated, it may affect the heart and the central nervous system.
More than 30,000 confirmed diagnoses of Lyme disease are evaluated each year in the U.S. Often prevalent in the coastal regions: in the Northeast, Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that this year’s tick season will likely be the worst in years for Lyme disease, considering our unusual weather.
Experts caution to avoid grasslands and wooded areas where the disease appears to be high.
The CDC suggests wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants tucked into boots so that the skin may be protected. The CDC also advises showering after all outdoor activities, with hopes that if a tick is on the skin and unattached, it will wash off.
Lyme disease may occur weeks to months after infection. A progressive stage affects the chambers of the heart, and brain dysfunction, creating memory loss, inflammation of the spinal cord resulting in meningitis. Possibly infecting the cornea and causing vision loss and pain.
Additionally, an inflammation of the joints, swelling, and rapidly progressive motor neuron paralysis.
Among the activities that the CDC warns that are vulnerable to the Lyme disease are camping, fishing, gardening, hiking, hunting, picnicking.
Always be aware of where you walk without protection.