The good news is I can sleep through the night without tucking an extra night-shirt under my pillow to deal with drenching night sweats. The bad news is after two rounds of eliminating the sweats by taking Cryptolepis, we are certain that I have Babesia along with the Lyme Disease. In spite of that, I am feeling really hopeful that with a concerted effort to get rid of it that I will be able to take one more step forward with my Lyme disease recovery.
So what the heck is Babesia you ask? Babesia is a red blood cell parasite and is sort of a “sinister sister” to Lyme disease. Like Lyme it is a tick-borne infection and it is not uncommon to get both illnesses at once from a single tick bite. It sort of works synergistically with the Lyme against the host in that if you have Lyme, it is very difficult to get rid of Babesia and visa versa.
Babesia is very difficult to test for. According to the presenter from the IGENEX laboratory at last year’s Lyme conference, the testing is only about 30% accurate (worse than a toss of a coin). The test is very specific so if you get a positive test you can be pretty confident in those results. Unfortunately, the test is not very sensitive so a negative test only means they weren’t able to find it in that sample. It does not mean that you can say with any confidence that you don’t have Babesia. Even scarier, Babesia sneaks into the blood supply through donors who don’t know they are infected and there is no test available to screen donations.
Babesia is not particularly easy to treat either with the most common pharmaceutical treatments being pretty expensive with some pretty strong side-effects and no guarantee of a cure. Since we know that the Cryptolepis has been at least effective enough to stop the symptoms, we are going to continue that and added Copmine another anti-malarial herb. The plan is to take them both for the next 3 months. I’m crossing my fingers that the symptoms won’t come back again this time and am looking forward to seeing what this means for my last lingering Lyme symptoms. It would be so cool after 27 months of treatment to be totally off medications or at least reduce them to a very low maintenance dose! Regardless, I continue to count my blessings that I am a good 90% or so recovered with my remaining symptoms well-managed. There are many others who have not been so lucky including a fellow member of our local Lyme group who passed away this month after a long struggle.
In the meantime, stay healthy! Remember, if you find an attached tick on your body save the tick and consider having it tested. Direct tests on ticks for Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme disease) and other tick-borne infections are about 99% accurate compared to just 30-60% accurate in people. Remove the carefully with tweezers by pulling it slow & steady. Put it into a baggie or empty medicine vile with a damp cotton ball. If it is embedded and obviously feeding for a while, you might want to send it out right away for testing. Otherwise, if you end up with a bull’s eye rash or other signs of illness you can send your saved tick in for testing and save yourself a lot of trouble trying to figure out what infection(s) you may have. In New England, you can send your tick to UMass in Amherst. IGENEX laboratory in California also tests ticks.
Some very helpful resources: