Rachel Long was diagnosed with Lyme Disease eight years ago. She said she was so sick that she almost died, and at one point, was in a wheelchair.
“I lost all my lower extremity strength,” Long explained. “My arms started to cave in, and I just rocked back and forth and I gained really severe food allergies.”
Things are better for Rachel now. She has been symptom-free for two years, and said that in addition to antibiotics, natural remedies have been a major help in her recovery.
“What you want to focus on is anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic – so things that work in conjunction,” Long said. “But it’s also mind, body and spirit.”
Long is not alone in the fight against Lyme Disease. Renee Sharpe is the president of the Chambersburg Lyme Alliance. Sharpe, her husband and daughter were all diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Sharpe said her daughter at first tried doxycycline and Flagyl, but they really didn’t work.
She said once her daughter tried herbal treatments is when they saw a difference – so Sharpe and her husband tried herbal treatments, as well.
“It was good, because it builds your immune system as it kills the microbes that are invading your body,” Sharpe explained. “So we could build our immune systems at the same time as we were killing the invaders that were making us sick.”
Dr. Timothy Stonesifer is a Lyme-literate doctor in Shippensburg. He uses a combination of antibiotics and natural remedies when treating his patients.
“Some people will want to come in and do natural products. I think that’s important,” Dr. Stonesifer said. “We have a pretty good interaction with my patient. [I ask them] what do you want, and it’s kind of an informed, consent patient care approach.”
Dr. Stonesifer said that a lot of the treatments he gives his patients are contingent on how long a person has had the disease. He said treatments can go anywhere from 21 to 40 days, depending on the case.
“Usually, drug of choice is doxycycline for adults. [For] children, it’s amoxicillin,” he said. “A lot of times, I’ll add a second antibiotic in with some of the newer science that’s showing persister cells that we may need to be using dual antibiotics or triple antibiotics.”
Many who have had Lyme Disease agree that with the disease getting misdiagnosed often, it’s important to have the right treatments.
“I would not want to be treated for depression if I’m not really clinically depressed, you know,” Sharpe said. “So you have a whole host of other consequences misdiagnosed and wrongly treated.”
If detected early, experts believe those who have it should be okay.
“Early diagnosis and early treatment with this disease…it’s very curable,” Dr. Stonesifer said. “It’s these later stages [where] it’s hard to get better. It’s a very complex disease.”