Loudoun Extra Letters to the Editor

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lyme Disease Treatment Varies Among Doctors

In the article on Lyme disease in the April 26 Loudoun Extra, Loudoun County Health Director David Goodfriend said: "For the large majority of people, if you catch it early, it's very treoatable."

Well, that depends on the dedication of the doctor the person consults.

I was bitten by three ticks in June 2007 and sought medical treatment within a few days. The wounds -- not tiny bites but larger gashes -- were fresh and very visible, and I had one tick for testing. The tick was determined to be disease-carrying, and I was given an antibiotic. I strictly followed all instructions for treatment.

Early last summer, I began to feel very fatigued. My muscles and bones ached, and I was confused and weak. By August, a large roll of fluid had collected around my knee and affected my walking, as well as being quite painful.

I returned to the medical office that first treated me. X-rays were taken of my knee, and I was treated for a sprain. The knee continued to gather fluid, to the point where the roll was visible under my slacks. My other symptoms continued to increase in intensity.

Fortunately, my wife is on the e-mail list of U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and read about the workshop he had organized on Lyme disease. We could not attend, but she called his office and learned the name of the doctor who had given a presentation. In September, I saw a doctor within that practice, and she immediately began to help me.

After testing and treatment, I began to feel better, but I was far from recovery. I continue today with medication and a special diet. I believe that Dr. Humera Malik saved my life after the previous medical provider failed to recognize the seriousness of my condition, even with obvious symptoms.

Some insurance companies will not recognize the importance of certain tests, classifying them as experimental. I don't understand that policy, given that Lyme disease is a serious illness and that testing is vital to determine the patient's condition. Certain required prescriptions are expensive and are not covered under the pricing structure that many pharmacies use. My current doctor is out of network, so my co-pay is much higher. However, given my medical needs and the previous level of care I had received, I think I should continue with this doctor.

I am glad to see that articles on Lyme disease are being published so that people can be educated on what to do.

Earnest Gibson

Potomac Falls

© 2009 The Washington Post Company