Fitz copes with Lyme Disease

Friday, September 29, 2006

Staff Writer

Lyme disease is on the rise and people must learn how to protect themselves.

Lewisburg resident, Bob Fitz, was diagnosed with Lyme disease November of last year, but believes he may have had it since the 1970s.

" I think Lyme disease is the worst health problem because it is under diagnosed," said Fitz," Your first sign is when the doctor says it is all in your head."

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by a tick bites which can be prevented by hiking in the middle of trail, applying tick repellent, wearing shoes that cover the feet, putting clothes on high heat in the dryer for one hour to kill ticks on them. Always check yourself frequently, especially where skin meets skin and clothing fits tightly. Ticks like the waist, belly button, behind the knees, armpits, and in the ears. If a tick bite does occur, remove the tick promptly. Do not squeeze the tick's belly, use a hot match, or chemicals. The lyme germs from the ticks gut may squirt into you. It is recommended to slide something under the tick, such as a credit card or tick remover. Apply pressure at the mouth until the tick releases itself.

Be aware of early symptoms such as, an expanding reddish rash with fatigue, muscle and joint stiffness, and headache. Later symptoms are problems with concentration, memory, making decisions, and even carrying on a conversation. Mood swings, violent outbursts, and suicidal impulses are common. Neurological symptoms can resemble MS, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's, making Lyme disease very difficult to diagnose.

Fitz experienced mood changes, trouble reading and writing, and sensitivity to bright light and sounds, to only name a few. Fitz says his "environment became foreign". Fitz has a degree in mechanical engineering, yet found it difficult to think logically.

Later phases of Lyme disease can cause inflammation of the heart muscle resulting in heart failure, Bell's palsy , meningitis, arthritis, and confusion.

Mothers also must be aware the Lyme disease can be spread to the unborn child during pregnancy. Look for signs, such as, the child having an unusual response to antibiotics, a sudden change in behavior, walking problems, and a sudden loss of the ability to concentrate. Fitz knows of a family in Lewisburg, where the mother unknowingly transmitted Lyme disease to four of her seven children.

Early illness is usually treated with oral medicines, and additional medicines may be added for pain relief. Of course, prevention is always best. Be aware that ticks wait on the tips of blades of grass or other plants for a person or animal to pass by. Also, they can drop from trees.

" The tragedy is that in the first two weeks of infection it can be caught and treated, but doctors are reluctant to diagnose it as Lyme disease and give the proper antibiotics," said Fitz.

Fitz, has tried everything. He is now considering IV antibiotics, which is a permanent needle into the chest, at the price of $12,000 every three months. There has also been the possibility of some relief, from what is known as the Marshall Protocol, involving several antibiotics and blood pressure medications for a period of five years. Fitz has been on the Marshall Protocol for one year, and is patiently waiting for results.

Fitz decided long ago that he was going to die or fix it himself, and since then has thoroughly educated himself on Lyme disease to help himself and others. We should all take his advice to heart.