Monday, 25 May 2015

Lyme Disease - Local Experience

The man we know who has recently contracted Lyme disease (see recent blog entry here) has been kind enough to allow the Diary to publish these photographs of his bite and the classic target-shaped rash which developed.  A couple of days later I was talking to local resident Katie Stafford, who said she had had Lyme disease, and offered to describe her experience.

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
There is an NHS link to information about Lyme Disease here.

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