Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Neurological Complications of Lyme Disease

I have a personal interest in Lyme Disease.  I live in Maine where the incidence of this deer tick-borne disease has become significant, amongst the highest in the country!  My first scary encounter with Lyme Disease occurred about ten years ago, when my beautiful, four-year old yellow lab pup was found to be in acute kidney failure.  This was the result of a complication of the Lyme Disease that started two years earlier but was inadequately treated with antibiotics (too short a course of antibiotics to be effective).  The vets did not hold out much hope for her.  But I took her to Angel Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, and a vigorous treatment plan worked!  Her kidney function improved enough for her to live to the ripe old age of eleven!  Below is a picture of my beloved Lily, my "First Mate" on my boat!

 About six years ago, I became friends with a couple of lovely, artistic women who opened their own gallery in town, one doing jewelry, the other nature paintings.  This very talented painter had been struggling with complications of undetected Lyme disease for a few years.  I watched helplessly as her condition worsened.  The neurological symptoms increased, mostly motor system dysfunction.  An MRI of her brain revealed white matter lesions.  She needed a cane to walk and her fine motor skills were so diminished that she could no longer hold a paint brush!  She had seizure-like tremors that lasted minutes at a time.  The antibiotics prescribed were so strong that the effect was almost like chemotherapy.  And the worst of it was that her medical insurance did not cover treatment!    That is not uncommon with Lyme disease patients! 
So, because I have observed these severe cases, it has become my personal quest to inform others of this under-recognized, under-reported, under-treated disease!  Lyme disease has been reported in all 50 states!  It is probably even less well recognized in states where it is not common, so patients my go untreated and misdiagnosed!   One of my goals was to find a Lyme disease expert who would be willing to give a talk on the Neurological Complications of Lyme Disease for the ASET annual conference.  This year seemed like the right year to do that!  Our annual conference is in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania is a state with a high deer population and increasing incidence of Lyme disease.
I networked with an international Lyme disease organization and they helped me find Dr. Joseph Annibali, from Reston, Virginia. He graciously agreed to come to our conference and give a talk!  He is an expert speaker who has been interviewed on CNN and many other radio and T.V. shows and I am thrilled to have him on this year’s ASET Annual Conference program!
His talk is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20, at 9:00 a.m. in our “Trends in Neurodiagnostics” course.  The title of his presentation is “The Lyme Disease Epidemic and the Impact on the Brain”.  I think every technologist should hear this presentation!  Many patients with neurological complications of late stage Lyme disease seek help but go misdiagnosed.  They may be referred for Neurodiagnostic testing because of their symptoms.  You may be the one to recognize the possibility of this diagnosis!  So, if you are attending, please come to this lecture!  It is really important to spread the word about Lyme Disease!