Lyme Disease is called “The Great Masquerader,” as it mimics so many other diseases. It is not just a bull’s eye rash. In fact, up to 60 percent of Lyme patients never even see a rash. When meeting fellow “Lymies” I found there was not really one common denominator in what this disease looks like or how it presents.
Even within my own family, it manifested in three very different forms. My husband Jeff had what would come the closest to “looking like” Lyme Disease. He had a rash on his leg. For two years, he was told it was eczema. Two dermatologists and two internists prescribed various creams. When Dr. Mozayeni saw it, he declared it was certainly not a typical Borrelia or Bartonella rash, but it certainly was not eczema.
Our son Stephen developed what appeared as “stretch marks” on his trunk and arms. They looked like miniature fireworks with bright red marks at one end. Stephen also suffered from recurrent pneumonia, a low-grade fever, and he tested positive for mononucleosis twice.
The only skin rash I recall is six months before the accurate diagnosis. I developed a rash on my back. The dermatologist swore it was shingles, except it crossed my spinal column, which is impossible for shingles to do. She took five biopsies, including core samples. “Herpes,” she declared. “You need to inform your husband.”
Lyme manifests in many different forms. It usually appears as illnesses related to auto-immune disorders.
For 29 years, I watched physicians write “auto-immune?” on my chart, never knowing a series of auto-immune diseases could point in the direction of Lyme and its co-infections. I never thought viral meningitis, joint pain, recurrent sinus infections, Hashimoto Syndrome, and itchy ears could be related.
Sharon Rainey is co-author of Lyme Savvy: Treatment Insights for Lyme Patients and Practitioners.