I’m now in the eight and last week of my first treatment. I felt quite well at the end of last week, so I decided to go jogging this Monday.
It was one of the few days this summer that being outdoors actually felt like summer, and everything started well. After about 2 miles I hit the all too familiar lyme wall – that is, my upper body got stuck like in a vise, pain set in, I got dizzy… practically everything (except breathing) malfunctioned.
Faltering back home the remaining mile and a half, I recovered somewhat later during the day. Then, in the evening, sure as fate, the expected symptoms hit me – neurological problems, muscle and joint pain, chills, a feeling of inflammation all through my body. I got through it all with a lot of lemon juice and painkillers. The symptoms did ease off, but I was so exhausted that I fell asleep early – at least by my standards.
I slept for 14 hours in a row, totally knocked out, and woke at 5 pm. The day was cumbersome, the brain working at half speed, and then in the evening the chills returned. It is quite a special experience to dress up in fleece pants, wool sweater and socks, finding yourself shivering under a blanket during the warmest days of summer.
This was no coincidence. Week 8 bears a daunting resemblance to week 4, when I went through a similar experience. This brings up the discussion about lyme cycles.
It is well known through different patient reports that symptoms during persistent, long-lasting lyme disease reoccurs by regular intervals. There are different opinions on as to what might be the actual cause of these cycles.
Some says it’s due to the hard-to-catch bacteria regularly re-entering the blood stream in order to reproduce, and that during treatment with antibiotics and/or herbal protocols the spirochetes – the corkscrew-shaped, classic form of the bacteria – are effectively lysed (destroyed) in the blood stream.
When spirochetes die, endotoxins are released, and our body reacts by producing cytokines. As the lyme patient has a taxed immune to begin with, the arising inflammation is simply too much for the body to handle – the immune system is overloaded, which induces a herxheimer reaction.
Another theory – one which I’m personally inclined to embrace – is that the reason for these lyme cycles is to be found in the truly fascinating ability of the bacteria to trick our immune system by performing epitopic changes – that is, make variations in the part of the antigen that antibodies against borrelia binds to. If variations like these occur every 3rd to 6th week, our body interprets these changes as if it’s dealing with a new, acute inflammation, and reacts accordingly.
Epitopic variation sounds logical to me. I know that I’ve for many years, on a more or less regular basis, have had really horrible days with chills and sweating, being sure that a heavy flue was about to hit in – only to only a few days later find myself in much better shape.
Being unaware of the fact that I’ve been carrying lyme bacteria in my body, I haven’t given it much thought, just accepted it for whatever it is. Without ever knowing why, and subconsciously suppressing a growing apprehension that something is seriously wrong.
We are inclined to always hope for the best, and are thus easily fooled – even by ourselves. Cyclic, regularly reoccurring inflammatory symptoms are rather common in lyme disease. If you have these kinds of symptoms without a plausible explanation or diagnosis, it might be better to think twice. Lyme disease might be the underlying reason.