Helsinki, June 8, 2015

Tomorrow, on Monday, another antibiotics is added to my medication. I will continue to recieve IV-antibiotics as well, every other day from now on. Now I enter the phase of which I’ve been most afraid. Now all the medicines are thrown into the mix.

When the spirochete (the spiral-shaped bacteria) dies in the body, it is through the destruction of its cell wall. Then endotoxins enter the blood stream, which the body experiences as an attack and treats like an inflammation. If the release of endotoxins is large-scaled enough, the human defense mechanism is overloaded. Then something called a Herxheimer reaction occurs. That’s when you start feel not better, but much worse than before.

The Herxheimer reaction (or herx, in daily speech) can be everything from almost neglible to something that makes the patient brutally ill. Some lyme patients produce almost no herx symptoms at all, others are feeling terribly sick. For natural reasons, I wish I belong to the first category, but I have mentally prepared myself for a rough week.

The lyme bacteria is a chameleon that can disguise itself through mimicking symptoms of other diseases, thus confusing the doctors and making it much harder for them to come up with the right diagnosis. When one listens to different patients’ history of disease, their initial symptoms can vary quite a lot.

Late stage symptoms is a different story. When the disease has harassed the body long enough, the common symptoms have appeared. It would all be som much easier if one could look 10 years into the future. Then proper treatment could be started at a stage where the bug simply hasn’t had enough time to cause so much devastating damage.

Now we are practically forced to look at it all in retro perspective, and a lot of people are indeed being misdiagnosed when their first symptoms occur. When my symptoms appeared, I didn’t give borrelia burgdorferi a single tought.

I ruled out my first symptoms as being caused by other factors. When I started taking antidepressants in fall 2000, I thought I would die – I went to the hospital emergency room several times due to irregular hearbeats and panic attacks. The EKG:s showed nothing out of the ordinary. SSRI antidepressants have a breaking-in period during which it is common that the patient feels worse during the first weeks or so.

I felt terrible for a period of six weeks, until it finally eased off. My wife saved me. She tirelessly sat by my side, ensuring me that I would make it, that I would cut through. I did, and came to the conclusion that my breaking-in period just was an unusually long and heavy one.

But the irregular heartbeats didn’t disappear. In my case, I had premature ventricular contractions (PVC) – for many periods as much as one PVC every tenth beat. As my pulse always has been slow, and I excercised a lot during that winter season (which lowered my pulse to about 36 beats per minute), the doctors explained that PVC:s are experienced more often in individuals with a slow heartbeat. I believed them, and carried on.

My next symptom was dizziness. This was explained to present itself due to neck tension, and I started to schedule regular appointments with naprapaths and physiotherapists. The treatments eased the symptoms, but only temporarily. At the transition into year 2001, there were as you can see many signs pointing towards an underlying problem, but neither I myself nor the doctors grasped that just yet.