By Jon Davis
Six inches of snow covered the Ohio ground that December day in 1995. I hit the woods and found some very big tracks. I followed them and within a few yards found a “dead deer” lying at the treeline. Its ribs and spine were showing, and its eyes were sunken. I decided to continue to my stand and return later to investigate.
After about an hour of hunting, I walked up again on the buck and was surprised to find that it wasn’t dead. It had merely been sleeping or “playing possum.” The buck rose and was obviously in bad shape. Its back right leg was dragging above the knee, and its left was not looking good, either. Still, the buck managed to run.
I followed it into the open field and found it standing broadside. The decision to put the buck out of its misery came quickly, but I had no idea how tough this task would be. It took five arrows and a pursuit that stretched the better part of a mile. But finally, the determined monarch was down for keeps. In fact, as the buck expired at 5 p.m., the local church bells rang out “Joy to the World.”
The next day, I found out that someone I knew had wounded the deer during the shotgun season. It’s an incredible 13-pointer that misses the BTR minimum by less than an inch.
These days, I don’t chase deer. Even a foot race would be impossible. I have late-stage Lyme Disease and can hardly walk. There is a lot of confusion clouding the diagnosis of this debilitating affliction, proper treatment and cure.
Three ticks have bitten me — in 1991, 2000 and 2002. The third came after I’d been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and was told I would be dead in three to five years. Then in July 2002, I tested positive for Lyme Disease. All three tick bites had been on my scalp at the back of my head. I did not think to look for the telltale bull’s-eye rash, but it might not have mattered since only 50 percent of infected people get the rash.
We’ve all heard of Lyme Disease, but not many people know of the 40-plus symptoms of this tick-borne ailment. Patients diagnosed with many other ailments exibit the symptoms of Lyme Disease. These illnesses include ALS; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s; gout; carpal tunnel syndrome; hepatitis; Epstein-Barr virus; ADHD; TMJ (jaw pain); Crohn’s disease; Alzheimer’s; fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue syndrome; Bell’s Palsy; lupus and some forms of arthritis. And Lyme Disease is present on every continent except Antarctica.
My first symptoms were tiny muscle twitches in my legs. These twitches would cause a single muscle strand to contract. Eventually, the twitching spread over my entire body. My legs began to feel weak and heavy, and I became clumsier. Now, I never was what you’d call graceful, but this was ridiculous.
In November 2001, I was helping to erect a pole barn as part of a church project. Climbing around in the rafters, nailing and screwing down the sheet metal roof, I became very aware of how my legs were weakening. Climbing the treestand ladders also was difficult. By the late-January bow season, I had to pull my legs up to get my feet on the next step.
Throughout the next year, it was apparent that I was in trouble. People asked if I’d hurt my back or legs. My walk was different. I developed a double-foot droop. The Lyme Disease was into my nervous system, deteriorating the signal from my brain to my muscles. In December 2002, I forbade myself from driving for safety’s sake. I could no longer move my foot from the gas pedal to the brakes without lifting my leg with my hand. And getting up a tree was out of the question.
So we improvised. We bought an ATV and set up a ground blind so I could try to continue my hunting passion. I had been lucky to take a deer each of my first 14 seasons, but I had not shot one in the last two years. However, my cousin, Dave, called in to 22 yards a jake that I shot in Miami County last May. (Thank you, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, for repopulating those beautiful birds!)
Lyme Disease can do more than take away your motor skills. You can lose eyesight, hearing, speech and even the ability to swallow and breathe. If it goes undetected for too long, you could die. The Lyme symptoms closely resemble those of ALS and MS. Lyme can cause mental anxiety, depression, weight loss or gain, sleepless nights and drowsy days. It is the “great imitator” of other diseases.
The most common Lyme test, the ELISA, is only 10 percent accurate. Others, like the Antibody Capture, IgC and IgM Western Blot, are about 65 percent accurate within the first 4-12 weeks of infection and less than 50 percent accurate through the next two years. These tests are also known for showing false positives and false negatives. The most accurate tests are the Lyme Culture and the PCR test, which checks for actual RNA/DNA of live bacteria.
The Lyme bacteria are in the spirochete family and are possibly sexually communicable. Since the microorganisms are present in most bodily fluids, they can be spread through blood transfusions and have the potential to be passed from mother to child at conception or through breast milk.
The scariest part of all this is that the medical community treats this potentially fatal disease with just 4 to 6 weeks of antibiotics. But mature bacteria can go into cyst form for 6 months or longer and reemerge, according to Lyme expert Dr. Greg Bach of Colmar, Pa.
In severe cases, it takes several months and, in some cases, years of rotating different antibiotics at high doses to control the disease. Last June, I had a Mediport installed so I can take 2-gram shots of IV Rocephrin per day for 3 to 6 months. Needless to say, this can create problems with insurance companies.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, especially if you know a deer tick has bitten you, contact a Lyme Disease website listed below. If you do have Lyme Disease, you cannot afford to let it get out of control. Take it from me. I’m 43 and can barely walk around my own home. My wife’s symptoms include panic attacks and headaches. But she has been terrific throughout this terrible ordeal.
Don’t let your family doctor be the only source for accurate diagnosis of this disease. I urge you to seek a professional who is familiar with Lyme and similar diseases. Just be thorough and persistent in your treatment options. I must thank my friend, Jack Miller, who sent us in the right direction. He once had a customer who had been diagnosed with ALS and was found by Dr. Bach to in fact be suffering from Lyme Disease. Thank God we didn’t settle for the death sentence.
Get the Facts
A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would provide crucial funding for education and research on Lyme Disease. Please contact your congressmen and state senators in Washington, D.C., and ask for their support of the bill. The medical information presented in this article is supported by Dr. Gregory Bach D.O., P.C., a congressional consultant on Lyme Disease. A brochure on Lyme is available by calling (610) 388-7333. For Lyme Disease resources on the web, visit the following sites:
• ilads.org(medical/professional org.)
• lymenet.org(general info., with many links)
• lymediseaseassociation.org (Lyme-literate doctor referrals)
Jon Davis - firstname.lastname@example.org