Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Decade of Symptoms--Suzi Overstreet

In the Spring of 1999 I was first exposed to Lyme (so the doctor thinks). The bite was on the top of my head, and when I went to remove the tick I was not able to get the head. In fear of Lyme Disease or infection I went to my doctor immediately to get the tick removed. What a process. It took 3 nurses and a doctor to scrape my scalp in an effort to remove the tick's head. I didn't notice any symptoms for about 6 months.

My husband and I were married in October of 1999 and soon thereafter I started having severe stomach problems. I was sent to the hospital a few times for extreme pain, and the diagnosis was pretty grim. I was told that I had a very severe case of Endometriosis and that it would be potentially difficult to have children. That diagnosis was very difficult to hear.

I began to work for a chiropractor in the Spring of 2000, where I was given consistent adjustments. The x-rays showed severe misalignment of my neck to the point where the vertebrae were bending the wrong direction. The x-rays also showed Scoliosis progressing in my lower back. The adjustments helped my pain tremendously.

As the year went by my stomach continued to be the major issue. In the winter of 2001 the pain in my stomach started to worsen. I was once again sent to the ER, with concerns that it was my appendix. Test proved otherwise and again it was a big mystery.

I became pregnant in December of 2001 but miscarried within weeks. I became pregnant again not too long after but suffered during the entire pregnancy with terrible morning sickness and back and neck pain. I figured these ailments were just part of the day by day hormonal changes in pregnancy so I took no concern for them. My son was born in October of 2002. I seemed to recover very quickly from the birth and my stomach issues faded a bit. However, the pain in my back and neck continued to worsen.

In 2003 I started having problems with my wrists. They said it was carpal tunnel. Later tests showed multiple cysts in my right wrist, making it very difficult to perform every day tasks. My doctor prescribed a few different anti-inflammatory medications, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference for me, so I stopped taking them.

In the summer of 2003 I became pregnant with my second child and again suffered tremendously with terrible morning sickness for 7 or 8 months out of the entire pregnancy. By the 8th month, I broke my tailbone and was bedridden for the majority of the last month. The birth was quite easy except for the 33 hours of labor. I recovered quite well with the exception of the broken tailbone, and I still suffered from severe pain in my neck and back. I started thinking of some alternative ways to relieve my pain.

In the early months of 2004 I noticed a terrible sore behind my right leg. It started as a dry patch of skin but eventually became very oozy. I went to a dermatologist, and they couldn't figure out what it was and left me with no answers. Soon after, I started getting a rash on the insides of my elbows and behind my knees. I took one more trip to the dermatologist and was sent home with a steroid cream. The cream did not work and the sore and rashes lasted a good 2 years.

I again started going to a chiropractor for the pain in my back and neck. I received some relief from it all but it would always return with a vengeance. My doctor then prescribed Percocet for the pain. I continued with chiropractic care and some massage therapy sessions. I didn't take the Percocet.

In September of 2004 my five-month-old (at the time) son was diagnosed with a severe case of RSV and was in the hospital for over a week.

In 2005 I found that I had been bit again by a tick which ended up in an infection (Celulitis). It was extremely painful. A full month's dose of antibiotics and pain killers and the infection was finally gone. This was the first time I was tested for Lyme Disease, but the test came back negative.

From this time until my daughter was born in 2006, I was sick with different ailments nearly every other week, and my doctor and midwife couldn't figure it out. They figured it was just a reaction to the hormones of the pregnancy. By my 9th month of pregnancy I somehow broke my tailbone yet again and was told to take it easy because of the pain. After this birth, I was not able to recover nearly as easily. I couldn't find the energy I had after the first two pregnancies and of course, the pain in my neck and back were still there. Serious back and neck pain, swelling and migraine headaches became the norm.

In the summer of 2007 I was diagnosed with Fifths Disease, which attributed to the arthritis pains I was receiving in my back, neck and wrists. After the initial Fifths reaction I started having chronic pain in all of my joints, mainly in my legs and neck. It was more and more difficult to stay standing or sitting for long periods of time. The initial Fifths Disease reaction subsided within 2 weeks; however some arthritic symptoms never went away.

During the year of 2008 I was typically sick on and off and was always complaining of something. I kept telling my husband that I needed to get my blood checked because I was never feeling good and always tired.

I started feeling signs of Fibromyalgia during the early months of 2009.

In February of 2009 I went to my doctor about a cat scratch that seemed to be infected. He diagnosed it as Cat Scratch Fever and put me on a high dosage of antibiotic along with giving me a Tetanus shot.

In March of 2009 I found yet another tick. This time on my back. It was very small, and I thought it was a freckle. I was told later that it was a nymph. From March until June I missed many days of work due to illness. I started feeling severe sharp pains in my knees and it was very difficult to bend them or walk up inclines. My legs would burn to the point where I needed to sit down. I took 5 trips to the ER between June 1 and July 2rd. Each time, the doctor would say there was nothing wrong me. On my fifth trip to the ER I was given an MRI, CSCAN, and multiple x-rays, which came back completely clear. But I was still feeling terrible.

While at work one day in early June of 2009 I suffered the worst headache I had ever experienced. It literally put me on my knees. Another girl I was working with had to help me back up and to a place where I could sit down. I couldn't stand up and had to keep my head down between my knees. From this point, I knew there was something really wrong. I took myself to the ER, which would be my fifth trip in a few months. The ER doctor got so frustrated that I was back and that he couldn't put a finger on what I was suffering. He threw a prescription of Antivert in my face and said, “Here, this will help you,” Antivert is a prescription for Vertigo, something I knew I did not have. He then told me not to come back unless I was really sick.

My co-workers and bosses started noticing that I was forgetting a lot of things at work. They could tell something was wrong, and in fact, they thought I was pregnant because my brain wasn't working, and I was always complaining of pain and illness.

One more trip to the ER in late June, and I was finally given a diagnosis of Lyme Disease. I thank the Lord I had a doctor that actually was aware of the symptoms of Lyme. The ER doctor took blood and told me that I would receive results in about a week. Within a few days I got a call from the hospital telling me that in fact the Lyme test came back positive.

I went to my doctor on June 26th, and he did a very intense clinical exam of my extremities and asked a lot of questions about my condition. It wasn't until the end of my appointment that he confirmed that I had Lyme Disease. He told me that he thought they caught it soon so a 14-day dosage of Doxycycline would cure it. He couldn't have been more wrong.

My sister-in-law was getting married July 3rd, and I was supposed to help out with the flowers and photography. The night before the wedding all of the girls starting putting together bouquets for the wedding. I couldn't think. I couldn't get my mind to do anything. I finally had to quit working. It was so embarrassing. I was tired, sore, and “mindless.”

The wedding was outside. and I wasn't told that I was not to be outside in the sun while on Doxycycline. I was out in the hot sun for 4 hours taking pictures and nearly passed out near the end. By the time I got inside, I realized even with tons of sunscreen, the sun had fried my skin. I was fluorescent pink!

I spent July 4th relaxing and trying to get myself to feel better, but I couldn't get myself to stand up for very long. My husband drove us to see the fireworks in Roanoke. I was feeling really bad at this point.

I had to drive myself to the ER for the 6th time on July 5th. I was rushed straight in, and the ER doctor this time suspected Spinal Meningitis. He ordered many blood tests and a spinal tap to be sure it wasn't Meningitis. He also wanted to see if the spinal tap would show Lyme Disease in the spinal fluid. During the lumbar puncture (spinal tap) the doctor told me that my spinal fluid was clear and that was a very good sign. We eventually got the test results back and they were negative for Meningitis. We had to wait to see if Lyme was found.

Because of my condition I had to quit my job as a manager of a restaurant, and my husband moved me four hours to Northern Virginia to be with my family. We were not sure what the next steps would be, but we knew I would be better off with the help of my parents. My children stayed with my husband's parents while my husband packed up our house and moved us. I was in bed for 4 months. I felt like a vegetable. I couldn't walk, think, or even talk right. I would slur almost every sentence that came out of my mouth. Helpless.

By this point I started having severe neurological symptoms and started losing memory. I had to quit doing graphic designer work because I had forgotten how to do it. I couldn't even save a file. It was amazing to me that I could lose knowledge of something I had been doing for over 13 years. I didn't expect to get it back.

I found out about a Lyme Disease conference being held at the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce (due to large populous with Lyme) in a local paper. I had to force myself out of bed and to the seminar. When I got there I noticed a friendly face. My husband is a coach for high school varsity sports, and the father (who is a medical doctor) of one of his players was the speaker at this conference. I had no idea that he knew anything about Lyme. I talked with him after the seminar, and he asked me to come see him in his office the next day.

During my visit with my new doctor, he took a comprehensive history of my symptoms down and prescribed a full 30-day dose of Doxycycline. He also gave me a natural supplement called Cat's Claw that was known to help those with Lyme Symptoms. This was the middle of the summer. He told me that I had to stay out of the sun or my symptoms would worsen with this medication – something my old doctor forgot to mention.

While on the prolonged dosage of Doxy my symptoms worsened. My doctor's wife, a good friend of mine, invited me to another Lyme conference. I told her that I was too weak to go but that I would try. She arrived at my house and I could barely make it into her car. She told me to go back inside, but something told me that I needed to go to this seminar.

When I arrived at the seminar and realized that I had to go up a flight of stairs I stopped in my tracks. I hadn't been up stairs in months. My friend stood behind me and made sure I made it up the stairs. I found my seat and immediately I was greeted with a glass of water. There was something about that water and I couldn't get enough. During the 2 hour seminar, I drank close to 20 glasses of water. Something happened in me and my pain went away. I couldn't believe it. I asked about what was in the water and they showed me the machine that it came from. They told me that it was called Kangen Water with a pH of 9.5. I left that conference RUNNING down the stairs. I couldn't believe the difference I felt. I didn't care about how much it cost, I wanted that machine. I eventually got one and I will never live without it.

The water ionizer unit is made in Japan and is a certified medical device in more than 200 of their hospitals. Each patient's room has one of these devices. The water has super anti-oxidant properties and is very high in pH (alkaline).

Another friend of mine learned of my condition and told me about a product that his father sells. It is called ________ [name removed at request of manufacturer]. It is has been known to help with diseases of all kinds, including auto-immune diseases like Lyme Disease. Because I was not working and we had accumulated over $30K in medical bills in less than a year (and we had to move our family) I was not able to afford these supplements. My friend's father offered to purchase a 5-month supply of the products for me. I couldn't refuse it.

When I received the products, I started taking them that very evening. The next morning I couldn't believe how good I was feeling. I was able to think clearly and I could remember how to do things. I knew that I couldn't stop taking them. I was also completely out of pain!

Between the Alkaline water and the _______ products I have been able to stabilize my symptoms and function every day. I started out with being able to get up and go for about an hour every day to now being able to get out for nearly 4 to 5 hours. I am still not up to par with how I used to be, nor will I ever be; but I am at about 80%. I can't express how thankful I am.

I just turned 30 and I look forward to getting back to myself in the years to come. I have a long road ahead and a complete life of changes in every aspect of my life. I thank God for allowing me to find the amazing products that have helped me so much and for giving me a little bit of my life back. I look forward to starting a new life with my family by my side. It is going to be a journey, but one I know I can manage, not on my own but with the help and support of amazing Heavenly Father and my husband and family and friends.

I just started reading a new book called the Alkaline Miracle for Weight Loss. It is about completely changing the way I eat. It's called the “Raw” diet. All raw vegetables and fruits. I am working toward starting this diet very soon.
Some recent entries to my journal:

Good days are gone for awhile...
Feb 12 2010
I think my good cycle has just ended...the pain I am experiencing is horrendous. Almost worse than ever before. My lower back feels like it is going to go out on me, my knees can't take any sort of bending at all, my hips ache, and the deep bone pain is nearly unbearable. I took a heavy pain killer last night for the first time in months. I have been trying to stay away from them as they make me feel like crap for days afterward, but I couldn't stand the pain anymore.

I woke up so dizzy this morning that I nearly threw up. It took me 3 hours to be able to actually sit up. I just had to close my eyes and curl up like a baby for the dizziness to go away.

I lean on the Lord for my strength and every day He continues to bless me. I may be in pain but it is nothing compared to what His Son did for me. I am so thankful my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died for my sins so that I am assured one day there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more fears!

Thank you Lord for your blessings on me. Thank you Lord for this disease

Pain, pain, go away......
Dec 28 2009
So, I woke up this morning, late as usual. From the moment I got out of bed my legs begged me to get back into bed. They hurt so badly! I can usually go most of the day without themgiving me much trouble but for some reason, today is the day they have decided to shut down. It's like having a pulled muscle everywhere on my legs! Talk about annoying.

I haven't taken pain killers in months because I know what the effect is on my body but I may have to resort to some strong ones today. I can't take it anymore. I am praying I can stay strong today. Lord, please help me.

Rough Road
Dec 06 2009
I've been suffering with some newer symptoms, I mean they are not NEW per se but I haven't dealt with them for quite some time and I don't like it. My head hurts. The pressure is intense and the fog in my brain is killing me. I am supposed to start on a new project for work...one which I was very excited about starting and now all I want to do is sleep. I don't want to begin anything new...especially when I am unsure that I will be able to finish it.

I am a singer. I love to sing and have been singing since I was 2. Recently it has gotten harder and harder to sing. My throat aches and my range has faded. What else am I going to lose?

I am thankful I have my life, my family, and my Lord.

Just Think
Dec 04 2009
You're here not by chance, but by God's choosing. His hand formed you and made you the person you are. He compares you to no one else--you are one of a kind. You lack nothing that His grace can't give you. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose for this generation.

God's ways are not our ways. He knows our every need and knows our hearts.
I am so thankful I belong to a Great and Mighty God who loves me and leads me along His path. Thank you Lord for loving me and giving me strength to endure each day.
Today has been rough. I'm tired and worn, all I want to do is get in bed and sleep. I don't want to get depressed so I try and focus on other things.

Did too much....yet hardly anything...
Nov 21 2009
The day started off once again being hard to get out of bed. I forced myself around 9:45 because I had to take a friend into town to get a few things at the store. I was late....not a surprise. Anyway, the rest of the day went rather well - I forgot my water bottle which is what gets me through the day - so not as well as it could have been.

I am quite tired tonight....worn out and my body and brain do not want to function...typical. My husband was nice enough to give our three kids baths and put them to bed. It's not easy being a spouse of a Lymie, I am certain....it's not easy being a Lymie.

I am thankful for another day and look forward to tomorrow. What will God bring my way? I am looking forward to a great church service, music, and message. Thank you Lord for my beautiful family and another day!

Today, the same as yesterday...and the day before.
Nov 18 2009
It was once again hard to get out of bed. I don't remember a day where I was able to wake up early free of pain...and actually able to think clearly. It's been too long. I am however determined to get back to those days...where I can wake up with my children and take them to school, go out with my husband and have fun. It's not all that easy anymore. God gives me only things He knows I can handle, and He knows I can handle this.

I started having a flickering in my head again, right above my right ear this time. I had this for years before I knew I had Lyme. It starts with this "fluttering" and then ends with the most excruciating headache imaginable. Once that starts, my brain doesn't seem to want to continue working so at that point, I stop.

I am contemplating going on disability because I can't work full-time anymore...very clear as of last week. I worked two full days and I had to take off 3 days to recover. I was just so tired and worn out, physically and emotionally.

Well, that is all I have for today, maybe I will be back tomorrow...if I remember - another thing Lyme has taken from me, my memory.

-- Suzi Overstreet, Virginia


  1. My daughter's Lyme started similar to yours with the stomach pains. She had every test and they basically wanted to say she was faking it to avoid going to school. Why is it so hard for doctors to just admit it if they don't know something instead of telling us is all in our heads?

    I'm glad you've finally found some things that work for you. We've found raw foods very helpful too.

  2. This is a very powerful story...thank you for sharing it with. I am so happy that you have found things that are helping you. I am intrigued by the water ioizer and wonder if you would be willing to share the company name that makes it and where you bought it?
    I hope and pray that you are able to stay at 80%. Again, thanks for sharing your journey with Lyme...God bless.

  3. Bless your heart - I suffered with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) a few summers ago. It was miserable & stole my entire summer. The ER doc put me on Doxycycline, which treated the RMSF.
    After reading/researching RMSF(also from a tick bite), I was thankful it was diagnosed & treated early. And even though it was miserable, from what I learned, if I had to be stricken, I was glad I had RMSF instead of Lyme Disease.

  4. Suzi, thanks for your story. What's most amazing is your attitude during all the hard times. I had to laugh at your sentence about giving birth going quite well except for the 33 hours of labor. Sheesh. What a dry understatement.

  5. Brandilyn, I went through over 100 hours of labor between all three of my kids! I guess that was a gross understatement! HA!

    My attitude has to stay positive to survive!

    "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has
    stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."


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