May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month!

As we kick off the month of May, I thought it befitting to write a post that is dedicated to Lyme Disease as it is the start of Lyme Disease Awareness Month. In this post I will share some basic information about Lyme Disease as so many still know very little about this chronic yet debilitating disease. Did you know that it is estimated that roughly 30,000 new cases of Lyme Disease are reported each year? That is a very low estimate, as it is thought to be more than double that number but many cases each year go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as another illness or disease.

So what is Lyme Disease exactly? To be honest it can be hard to explain. In it’s most basic terms, Lyme Disease is an infectious disease caused by a species of bacteria belonging to the Borrelia family. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto is the main cause of Lyme Disease in North America. The disease is named after the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme, Connecticut where a number of cases were identified in 1975. Although it was known that Lyme Disease was a tick-borne disease as far back as 1978, the cause of the disease remained a mystery until 1981 when B burgdorferi was identified by Willy Burgforfer.

Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne disease in North America and is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick belonging to a few species of genus lxodes (hard ticks) Early symptoms may include fever, headache and fatigue. A bullseyes rash occurs in 70-80% of infected persons at the site of the tick bite after a delay of about 3-30 days. The rash is only rarely painful or itchy, although it may be warm to touch. Approximately 20-30% of infected persons do not experience a rash. Left untreated, later symptoms may involve the joints, heart and central nervous system. In most cases, the infection and it symptoms are eliminated by antibiotics, especially if the illness is treated early (within the first 30 days of being infected). Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to more serious symptoms which can lead to disabling and difficult to treat. The term ”Chronic Lyme Disease” is controversial and not recognized in the medical literature and most medical authorities advise against long-term antibiotic treatment for chronic lyme disease.

More work needs to be done in order to bring about more awareness. I must admit before I got sick and diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease, I had no idea what it was other than it being something that I knew pets could contract. I worry that if more education is not provided more and more people will be misdiagnosed and will suffer because of it. That is why our family started the Windy J Cumberbatch Foundation, to help provide more education and awareness in an effort to help others and Empower | Encourage | Inspire those living with Lyme Disease and other chronic illness such as Fibromyalgia.

Please visit our website at windyjcumberbatch.org for more information. We welcome your tax deductible donation that allows us to provide transportation to and from doctor visits and assist with co-pays. You can also follow us on social media: Facebook- @windy j cumberbatch foundation and IG: WJC Foundation, Podcast: Windy’s Journey on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts or wherever you stream.

Thank you for stopping by!

-Windy

2021: My Year In Review

I can’t believe 2021 is just about over. It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the new year from our homes, tucked away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to recap how my year went as I look forward to 2022. I must admit, due to my illness memory loss makes a bit challenging to recall a lot of things that I encountered, so I will just touch on the things I can recall.

If I’m honest, this year has been full of anxiety and a little fear as I have tried by best to protect myself and my family from the COVID-19 virus. It has been hard because some of the symptoms I face on a daily basis tend to mirror many of the COVID symptoms. I wear my mask faithfully, wash my hands often and sanitize my hands more than I care to admit. Can you relate? Wondering if I remembered to wash my hands after touching a public space, do I have enough hand sanitizer, oh and what about the person in the drive thru that was not wearing a mask, was that ok? So many emotions, so much stress and way too many things to think about each and every day! I often wonder if I am being a little paranoid, but with my current physical condition my body would not be able to handle anything additional. Most days are spent at home on the couch or lying in the bed trying to rest and allow my body to heal itself one day at a time.

As I continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and all of it recent variants, all I know to do is pray that God will protect me, my family and friends. I try to seek his guidance on what I should, how to listen to his voice and most importantly remember his promise to keep me and to never leave me. That does not mean I don’t get scared because I do, but when that fear creeps in I give that fear to God and exchange that fear for his truth that only he can provide. I wish I could say it’s easy, it’s not. It’s a fight everyday and I have to choose each day to trust that God will see me and my family through.

I look forward to the day where we no longer have to worry about COVID-19. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve seen my dad, brother (and his family), and my grandmother. I have family and friends that I’d love to go see, but I want to do my part to keep them safe, especially those who have a compromised immune system like me. We will get there, until that time I will continue to do my part to protect myself, make educated decisions for my health and continue to trust that God is in control.

Thank you for stopping by and don’t forget to check out my new podcast, “Windy’s Journey“, now streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you stream. Also check out our foundation, Windy J Cumberbatch Foundation, where our goal is to Empower | Encourage | Inspire those living with chronic illness. The main way we help others is by providing transportation to and from doctor visits to those who need it. All donations are tax deductible! We could not do what we do without your support.

Thank you for your support and cheers to 2022!

XO,

Windy

Lyme Disease vs. Chronic Lyme Disease

It took me a while to write this post. There’s so much I want to share with you, but I’m afraid it would become overwhelming and I would lose you. The battle between Lyme Disease and Chronic Lyme Disease is probably not widely known across the country, primarily because Lyme Disease itself is not well known. I am going to do my best to try to share my what I know as it relates to the controversy surrounding this illness.

To start us off, I want to remind you that Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria called “Borrelia” and it is most commonly found in deer ticks. Once you are infected with Lyme via a tick bite by an infected deer, it can take anywhere between 3-30 days before you noticed any symptoms. Once you noticed symptoms or you noticed a tick embedded in your skin it’s important that you see a doctor right away. At this point, you will be tested for Lyme Disease and if your test comes back positive you will be prescribed a round of antibiotics (most likely Doxycycline) for about 30 days. At this point the antibiotics will do it’s work and you should be ok. However, if you are bit by an infected deer tick and you don’t get treated within the first 30 days it can be hard to diagnose. The longer you go without being diagnosed, the harder it will be. This is where the controversy comes in.

Some doctors do not believe that an illness that goes untreated for long periods of time, such as Lyme Disease, could turn chronic. Some doctors believe that 30 days of antibiotics will do the trick and cure you. That is not the case with Lyme Disease. If you are infected and go untreated, the Lyme bacteria begins to take up residency in your body. The bacteria spirochetes begin to travel throughout your entire body and eventually every area of your body will become infected. Areas such as: (List not conclusive)

  • Central Nervous System
  • Brain
  • Respiratory System
  • Heart
  • Eyes
  • Dental
  • Muscles
  • Reproductive System

Once the Lyme bacteria invades the various areas within your body and the longer you go untreated, your symptoms begin to worsen and the illness turns Chronic, as it did in my case. Once this happens, the illness can be hard to detect, primarily because the current tests are not specific or sensitive enough to detect Chronic Lyme that has been invading your body for weeks if not months. The main reason for this failure to accurately test for Lyme is the fact that there are more than 1 strain of Lyme. The traditional tests that most doctors use will only test for 1, which means you could get a false negative. In order to be properly diagnosed you will need to be seen by a specialist who knows about Chronic Lyme and has access to the proper test. When the disease isn’t caught in time, it can spread throughout the body and cause chronic health problems that could otherwise be avoided with earlier detection and treatment.

The short story is, if you are bit by an infected deer tick and become sick, please see a doctor immediately and be test for Lyme Disease. Some of the early symptoms of Lyme Disease are:

  • a rash that looks like a red oval or bull’s-eye anywhere on your body.
  • fatigue
  • joint pain and swelling
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • sleep disturbances

Please note that only 70-80% of people infected with Lyme will develop the bulls eye rash, which means that 20-30% will NOT develop one. That means, if you notice symptoms and don’t see the rash you should still see a doctor and get tested. If you dismiss the symptoms as something else like the flu and don’t get tested and seek treatment, the bacteria will infect your entire body and turn to Chronic Lyme and become more challenging to treat. Symptoms will increase and become intense over time, again making it harder to treat. At this point you will need to see seen by a doctor who knows about Chronic Lyme Disease who can determine the best path and begin treatment. The longer you’ve gone untreated the longer it will take to see improvement. In some cases, Chronic Lyme Disease can become debilitating and cause disability.

More work needs to be done, more education, better testing, and increased awareness in order for people such as myself who have been suffering for years, to get the treatment we deserve. For more information, please visit my foundation’s website Windy J Cumberbatch Foundation. To learn more about more story, please check out my podcast “Windy’s Journey” now streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts & more!

Thank your stopping by and thank you so much for your support!

XO,

Windy

Repost: What Is Lyme Disease?

For those of you who may not know my story or my journey living with a chronic illness, I thought it would be helpful to share a few older posts that help to explain where it all started. My journey is not yet complete, but my faith continues to be strong in knowing that God has a plan for all of it. Over the next several months I will reshare posts that I feel help create more awareness.

Thanks for stopping by,

-Windy

For my very first post, I thought it fitting to share what the heck Lyme Disease is in the first place.  If you’re like me, you’ve most likely heard the very short version of what it is or maybe you’re unfamiliar altogether.  So here is goes;  below is how Lyme Disease is defined via Wikipedia:

“Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is an infectious disease caused by at least three species of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia.[1][2][3] Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto[4] is the main cause of Lyme disease in North America, whereas Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii cause most European cases. The disease is named after the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme, Connecticut, US, where a number of cases were identified in 1975. Although it was known that Lyme disease was a tick-borne disease as far back as 1978, the cause of the disease remained a mystery until 1981, when B. burgdorferi was identified by Willy Burgdorfer.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere.[5] Borrelia is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks belonging to a few species of the genus Ixodes (“hard ticks”).[6] Early symptoms may include fever, headache, and fatigue. A rash occurs in 70–80% of infected persons at the site of the tick bite after a delay of 3–30 days (average is about 7 days), and may or may not appear as the well-publicized bull’s-eye (erythema migrans). The rash is only rarely painful or itchy, although it may be warm to the touch. Approximately 20–30% of infected persons do not experience a rash.[7][8] Left untreated, later symptoms may involve the joints, heart, and central nervous system. In most cases, the infection and its symptoms are eliminated by antibiotics, especially if the illness is treated early.[9][10] Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to more serious symptoms, which can be disabling and difficult to treat.[11] The term “chronic Lyme disease” is controversial and not recognized in the medical literature,[12] and most medical authorities advise against long-term antibiotic treatment for “chronic Lyme disease”.[13][14][15]”

I know that’s a long definition, but it paints a very adequate picture of what I am currently dealing with.  I hope that you pay close attention to the last sentence pertaining to “Chronic Lyme Disease”, this will become more clear as in future posts…very interesting I promise.

Thank you for reading,

WJC