The image of heroin addicts sharing dirty needles is a strong one. Most people understand it’s a bad idea, an easy way to spread diseases like HIV and hepatitis.
The image of ticks as “nature’s dirty needle” is also dramatic. Ticks stick their mouth parts into mice, birds, squirrels, deer and untold other wild animals, picking up viruses, worms, protozoa and oh yes, bacterial infections like Lyme disease. By the time the tick sticks its dirty needle into you, you risk contracting a variety of different pathogens, some of them not even named yet.
In her book, “Nature’s Dirty Needle,” Lyme-literate nurse practitioner Mara Williams explores the topic of chronic Lyme disease as the end result of this toxic soup transmitted by tick saliva. The Lyme spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, is only part of the mix.
The complexity of chronic Lyme, with its myriad coinfections, is one reason it can be so confounding to diagnose and treat this disease. And why it’s essential for Lyme patients to find a knowledgeable practitioner. Williams describes symptoms, treatment and some of the politics surrounding Lyme and coinfections.
She interweaves personal anecdotes from individuals with Lyme, spelling out how difficult it was for them to get properly diagnosed, as well as the ups and downs of their experiences with treatment.
Ultimately, she sums up a bleak picture: “In the current health care system, there is no place for the millions who are ill with CLD (chronic Lyme disease) to get help when they are in need of more intensive support and care. No hospital exists that recognizes and treats these infections….Every person that I have spoken with who is ill with CLD has mentioned their frustration that there is nowhere for them to get help when they are relapsing or herxing.”
At the end of the book, Williams lays out her ideas for a healing center called Inanna House, which she would like to build in Sonoma County, CA. It would be geared to the needs of chronic Lyme patients, a place to receive supportive therapies and start IV treatments in a safe environment. It would offer both in-patient and out-patient care, as well as workshops and classes. It would incorporate a range of healing modalities, both western and alternative.
I don’t know how far along her plans are, or what it would take to open and run such a facility. But as I read the last chapter, where she describes her vision for Inanna House, I could imagine Lyme patients everywhere giving the idea a standing ovation.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.