Saturday, May 12, 2012

What's New on the Bookshelf?

Two dozen victims of Lyme showed up in the library meeting room this afternoon to hear Lyme survivor Katina Makris describe recovery from Lyme disease. Some were bent over, others walked with canes. No one came in a wheelchair, but Katina told us that she herself had been wheelchair-bound during the worst period of her illness, when her misdiagnosed Lyme had reached its third stage. A tick had bitten Ms. Makris in 2000, disrupting her life. By 2004, the spirochetes had buried into her neurological system. They were making a mad dash for her brain around the time she spoke to a friend who was a nutritionist. “It was nightmarish,” she explained, further describing her state as "being on an emotional yo-yo.” She had total lack of energy and even considered suicide. Fortunately the friend thought, "Lyme!" and pushed Katina to get tested. The test confirmed the diagnosis. She felt both elated and furious at having lost four years of her life, but soon knuckled down to fight, a good thing because there was no time to lose. “The bacteria is smart and changes its outer cell wall, mutating once you go on doxycycline,” she explained. Audience members learned that a two-week treatment with antibiotics is usually not long enough for the acute infection, which announces itself with flu-like symptoms shortly after a tick bite. “Lyme-literate” doctors now recommend six weeks in a similar case. If there has been a delay in diagnosis, they increase the length of treatment to twelve weeks.
Katina had always been healthy. She worked as a homeopath and believed in natural medicine. She had never taken doxycycline, so her friend suggested instead the herb cat’s claw, a “natural antibiotic for Lyme,” and total, absolute rest. Katina agreed to the rest cure and also built up her resources, by taking appropriate supplements. The audience listened with amazement, then lined up to purchase Out of the Woods, which recently became a finalist for best book of the year in the health/alternative medicine category.

Lyme has reached epidemic proportions in Wellfleet. I was surprised there were only two dozen people in the audience. I was also distressed that no one from Outer Cape Health Services showed up to listen to this eloquent speaker who offered hope to victims of Lyme.

One of the particularly interesting treatments Katina described was Rife Technology, an alternative perhaps, but something that seems to work for some people, although not approved by the FDA. (She devotes a full chapter of Out of the Woods to Rife.)

During the Q&A, one audience member said, “I don’t feel like I’ll ever be out of the woods. Do you feel like you’re cured?”

“I do,” Katina responded. She told us she had spent $15,000 to 20,000 to get well.

Katina provided the audience with a lot of information on Lyme, and the co-infections we need to worry about on Cape Cod. I will reread through my notes for a future post. Lyme disease is out of control here. We need to demand longer treatment, more “Lyme-literate” doctors, and the acknowledgement that this is a pandemic and should be treated as such by the Center for Disease Control.