Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lyme on the Brain: Part 1 - The Basics

"...Lyme Disease, particularly when it involves the central nervous system, can be an extremely debilitating, bizarre, terrifying and perplexing experience."
- Jenifer Nields, MD, Psychiatric Quarterly 

I can only imagine what some of you may be thinking after reading the third chapter in "My Story". Were you shocked, surprised, saddened, alarmed, disgusted (Lol - gossiping to all of your "healthy, normal" friends and laughing over what a complete and total NUT I must be...??) 

The only response I have to any type of emotion or reaction you may have felt is this: GOOD!! (Two thumbs way up!! : )

The reason: Because it means that - whether you like it or not - I've successfully accomplished a very important goal here in trying to make you understand just How Bad, "BAD" can get when it comes to the later Neuro-Psychiatric manifestations of this illness. Even if you don't believe me, that IS (to say the least) one memorable story, and one day, it might just save you or someone you love from having to go through it.

How it manifested in me will honestly forever baffle and haunt me, but nonetheless, sadly, it did, and therefore is worthy of some much needed attention and discussion.

I don't know how hard it may be for you to comprehend, but imagine how YOU would feel (or rather - what on earth would you do!?) if one day, out of the blue - assuming that you are NOT a sociopathic, homicidal maniac - you found yourself being constantly bombarded by the thoughts OF a sociopathic, homicidal, suicidal maniac?? 
AND (what's better) - you don't even get the luxury that actual psychopaths innately do of not having the ability to understand that this type of thinking is NOT NORMAL (nor acceptable!) - Nope...every single part of you trembles with the knowledge that this is Very, Very, Very, WRONG. So?...What would you do??

Well, I would assume that you would do what I did: BE ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY, AND UTTERLY TERRIFIED. Then - try your damnedest to understand (and tell yourself on a minute to minute basis) that what you are "experiencing" is  ACTUALLY a result of a "Brain Infection," vow to never tell ANYONE about it (why would you want to scare them?), and certainly NOT act on any of it (My God!).  

But honestly folks, "Good luck with that..." I mean, a couple of days/weeks...maybe? Seriously though - after Months and Months of this type of "invasion of the body snatchers type hell" - Come ON...now that's just not playing fair! You are bound to do something if you don't get HELP.

Even today people are still ashamed to admit to this aspect of their disease. I remember going to my Lyme Specialist's office in 2008 every single day for EIGHT months to get my Rocephin IV treatments, and was astonished to see just how many people in the waiting room would bow their heads, lower their eyes, and shamefully whisper to me what was REALLY going on in their heads, as if it was some terrible secret. My heart would break for them - I knew how they felt, but often found that if I tried to explain how this was possible, that they would be comforted by it. So - let's take a look.

*Note: I can't help but have a sincere "dislike" (think facebook...) when it comes to how scientists just LOVE to separate, examine, exclude and scrutinize each and every part of the human body - including the brain. I often feel that in doing so, they are essentially missing "the forest for the trees", and truly believe that the "whole" (of everything and anything - particularly the brain) is TRULY greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, even the most renowned Neurologists will tell you that the Brain is still a complete mystery that they've yet to ultimately figure out. Because of this, "ways" of looking at the brain often vary, and, in order to provide an in-depth look at the "whole," I ironically find myself forced to so in a fashion that 
requires me to do it in parts...hence the title of the post.

Now I'm not a doctor (thank god!), or a neurologist (even better : ), but what I DO know is that when Lyme enters the brain, it wreaks all havoc on the "higher," most evolved part of the brain or the Neo-Cortex. (As the progression of the disease continues, it may even go into the deeper, older parts of the brain...but that's something I'll delve into in my next post...)

Lobes of the Neo-Cortex
When talked about, the Neo-Cortex is often divided into four sections or "lobes" because each of them perform different tasks. These sections are: 

  1. Frontal Lobe - Blue
  2. Parietal - Yellow
  3. Occipital - Pink
  4. Temporal - Green
  5. That grey area in the picture is the Cerebellum (Latin for "little brain") but is usually not included as part of the Neo-Cortex because it is "older" evolutionary wise.

Okay. Now that we have an idea of what makes up the Neo-Cortex, let's take a look at what each part controls. (I LOVE this diagram!) 

This is obviously a rudimentary look, but I find that once people SEE this, they begin to understand, and therefore are less afraid, when the "scarier" symptoms manifest as a result of their disease attacking these areas of the brain, and can comprehend why they suddenly are having cognitive deficits, memory issues, emotional liability, and even psychiatric developments (like rage, photophobia, anxiety, OCD etc.) once the disease has entered the central nervous system.

*Note: The Brain actually has a "Right" and "Left" Hemisphere that behave VERY differently from one another, and even are separated, but not disconnected from one another. However, when referring to the "lobes," we simply say,  for example: Parietal Lobe of the Left (or right) Cerebral Hemisphere...to learn more about this, please watch "My Stroke of Insight" on my "Inspirational Videos" Page. Again, this is another aspect that is deserving of its own attention and will be included in another "part" of the "Lyme on the Brain" series.

Never Give Up! There are people who are ALWAYS there for you!
Although this is not nearly as much info as I'd like to post at this time (it IS quite lengthy though...) I sincerely hope that it'll help not only caretakers, but "scared out of their mind" Lyme sufferers who develop these terrifying manifestations, and find some (if any) comfort in beginning to understand the reason why it is happening to them - I only WISH I knew this when I went through it back in the day, but no one thought to tell me about it (because I was too afraid to admit I was experiencing it!!) and, therefore, I was  unfortunately - left in the dark. As you can see in my latest chapter, this was NOT a good thing. All my best and many blessings : )


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All and any comments, criticisms, suggestions, shout-outs, or any other uncontainable remarks are ABSOLUTELY and completely welcome : )