Katie writes, "I was bitten by tick whilst camping for a weekend in Dornie in May 2011, but didn't see the bite as it was behind my arm. In the weeks up to the end of July I felt fluey, fatigued, and anxious. I finally noticed the bulls-eye as it travelled around the cuff of my arm but didn't click it might be Lyme disease.
"In August, while driving back to the Highlands, I was struck with acute arthritis in my feet - so much so that literally, within hours, I couldn't drive the car. I just made it home.
"A GP's initially diagnosis was gout but, as might be expected, there was no response to the gout treatments. A week later and nearly three months after the original bite, bloods were taken and Lyme disease confirmed.
"I took two courses of VERY strong oral antibiotics, a total of 54 days in all. That in itself made me feel very unwell. Arthritis flared in both feet, knees and hands to the point where I couldn't walk without assistance for at least a month. I used a stick and at times had to be carried.
"When a blood test after the antibiotics showed I was STILL positive for Lymes, I made the very personal decision not to take the IV antibiotic course offered, which involved in-patient treatment at Raigmore. There is much division in the medical community. Some doctors have a good knowledge of Lymes, others very little, and there's lots of bureaucratic arguing about whether or not my symptoms were as a result of untreated Lymes or a separate condition.
"I took matters into my own hands and followed a strict diet recommended for 'inflammatory conditions'. I used herbal tinctures and homeopathic medicine as an alternative form of antibiotic treatment. The tinctures used were Echinacea and Goldenseal, taken internally to cleanse blood and support my immune function. I followed lots of 'physical therapy' - swimming got me walking again, starting with baby steps, initially just floating in a pool and moving my limbs, until eventually I was back to swimming full strokes comfortably.
"All in all, it took be about a year to recover my health, but there have been long-term consequences. I still suffer with flares of acute arthritis - some GPs still refer to it as Lyme-related. Meanwhile, Raigmore hospital continues to test me for rheumatoid arthritis as a separate condition.
"I suffer from Reynauds Phenomenon a circulatory condition causing the extremities to become white and deprived of blood due to vascular constriction. I do not use conventional medicines to treat it as all I am offered are VERY strong anti-inflammatories with terrible side-effects, and some types of heart-drugs.
"In general, though, I am enjoying very good health. The symptoms only strike if I am particularly tired or run down."
Katie recommends the following:
As a preventative, after carefully removing the tick, I use undiluted Lavender and Tea Tree oil on the bite. Both of these essential oils contain potent antibiotic/antiseptic compounds.
Fort William GP Dr Jim Douglas is working to map occurrence of the disease and to raise awareness - see Lochaber News article here.
Many thanks indeed to 'D' for the photos, and to Katie for her account.
Katie Stafford BSC Hom. Med. is a practitioner in homeopathic medicines. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is an NHS link to information about Lyme Disease here.