Thursday, September 25, 2008

Antibiotics again, yay! plus, a vacation!

This is why I love New Hampshire
Well, summer feels like it's ending here in Connecticut, with the leaves just barely starting to turn color, and the nights nice and crisp and full of stars. No more of that humid, hazy air.

Through the month of August, and part of September, Dr. Phillips, my LLMD, had me on a tetracycline regimen. It messes with my stomach just enough that I never feel "right", and when it's time to take meds I inwardly cringe. It feels like there's a stone sitting in the bottom of my stomach all the time.

This was the first salvo in a new battle. Prior to that, I'd had no antibiotic treatment since last October. It felt good to begin actually receiving treatment again. My ex-doctor, the infectious disease guy, assured me absolutely that there was no lyme left in my system. So, why am I herxing like crazy for most of these five weeks?

Yep, feeling like crap .... feels good. I knew that lyme warn't dead. The symptoms were "interesting". I summarized each of the five weeks briefly for the doctor as: bad, worse, horrible, better, worse. Typical lyme roller coaster ride. The horrible week was right after the dosage was increased. This brought out the worst of the neurological symptoms, where my mind is continually unsettled, I pace listlessly, can't think, can't read, can't sleep, and am very irritable. I can only liken it to getting kicked in the groin (for guys). Horrible feeling, but there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, except wait it out. Of course my wait was a bit longer, on the order of a week.

After the tetracycline, I had a week off, to allow my body to return to a baseline condition. Dr. P. calls this "pulse therapy". The idea, as I understand it, is to confuse and break the normal lyme cycle (which I get the impression is around 25-30 days) by using an antibiotic for five weeks. Then some time off, I don't know, to allow the lyme to think it's safe again? To allow my body to gather some energy?

During the week off, I took myself on a tiny vacation. I hadn't been anywhere more than 2 miles from my house in many months, except to go to doctors. So, I planned carefully, and my wife packed me up (she couldn't go, as she had to work).
Big Stewie
I drove a few hours north, via the slow route, no major highways. I spent a few nights in a motel in the mountains of New Hampshire. Usually when I go up there I hike. Um, not this time.

I did take my english bulldog, Stewart, with me. He's great company, has never been on a vacation before, and would otherwise just sit on the pillow at home, waiting for my return. He was much happier coming along, although he was very confused when it looked like we were actually going to live in this motel room. What's going on? There's a flat section of the Appalachian Trail just a couple of miles from the motel, so we went for a 1/4 mile walk twice a day. Good thing about Big Stewie, he gets tired when I do.

I love the foliage and climate in New Hampshire. At least ten degrees cooler than at home, and the air feels cleaner somehow. Birch and balsam strewn across the hillsides.

I returned home feeling somewhat refreshed, and ready for the next medical adventure. Six weeks of a Mepron / azithromycin cocktail. Mepron's not all that bad, really. It looks like yellow poster paint, costs $1100 for 3 weeks (fortunately my insurance covered it), and tastes, well, like medicine. You get used to it. And unlike all the dietary restrictions of the tetracycline, Mepron must be taken with food, preferably a little fat. My doctor is describing how I could add a little fat to my diet, and I cut him off, laughing. I have no problem finding fatty foods to eat. Yum. Sorry, I have to put all this butter on my toast - it's medicinal.

The Mepron (or is it the zith?) does spin me around a bit. Probably the Mepron, as the zith comes in a pill and wouldn't act so quickly. About half the time I take it, within 10 minutes I feel very strange. Spacey. Shakey. The first time I held up my hand, sure that I would see it trembling like a leaf. It was rock steady, but it still felt like it was shaking, along with the rest of my body. Like an energetic imbalance. Also, while my ears have been ringing for almost a solid year now, with little respite, I can hear (feel?) them cranking up when I take the Mepron. And then I get some of my usual fatigue and mental fadey-ness. I console myself with the knowledge that I'm kicking some bug's ass. Take that.

My other favorite doctor, Dr. D., the integrative specialist, uses acupressure, and other indescribable things, to help mitigate the effects of the treatment. I normally see him once a week, but have increased to twice a week during the Mepron.

I've been warned that I might break out in a measles-like rash from the Mepron, but not to worry. And that there's often a delayed flare-up around the third week. Next week. Oh boy, I can't wait.

Life is good. I've had fun putting this blog together this past week. I get periods of lucidity and can really "get stuff done", as long as it doesn't involve getting off the couch.