In our research, it didn't take long to learn the most dangerous thing you can do for a patient with Lyme disease is to compromise his/her immune system. My immune system was severely compromised by CellCept and Prednisone. Why had I not crashed sooner? I remembered Plaquenil, a drug that significantly helped my joint pain and stiffness, was also an anti-malarial. I wondered if it had been used in the treatment of Lyme disease? Yes, and when combined with certain antibiotics, it was very effective, boosting the antibiotic to super antibiotic status. Had Plaquenil helped temper the negative effects of the antivirals, buying me time?
We learned of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, also known as a Herx reaction which according to Wikipedia, "occurs when large quantities of toxins are released into the body as bacteria (typically Spirochetal bacteria) die, due to antibiotic treatment or rapid detoxification. Typically the death of these bacteria and the associated release of endotoxins occurs faster than the body can remove the toxins via the natural detoxification process performed by the kidneys and liver. It is manifested by fever, chills, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), and exacerbation of skin lesions. Duration in syphilis is normally only a few hours but can be much longer, up to months or years, for other diseases. The intensity of the reaction reflects the intensity of inflammation present.”
The bacteria that causes Lyme disease, genus Borrelia, is a spirochete capable of causing a Herx reaction. Chris exclaimed, “That’s what happened to you when you had the respiratory infection! You herxed!!”
He was right!! The headache and tingling sensations I experienced up and down my arms, the extreme fatigue, back and neck pain, the sores and joint pains all fit! We looked at each other, shock reflected in our eyes, followed closely by another sudden realization. We finally had the source of Olivia’s unexplained agony each time she started a new antibiotic for the frequent bouts with bronchitis and ear infections. Her screams of, “Owie,” over and over while she grasped the back of her head and tail bone now made sense. She had been herxing, too!
My husband has encouraged me to write a blog for years while I worked on a book about our experiences with Lyme disease. Inspired by "Julie and Julia", I have finally listened. Lyme is real is our family's story.