Lyme Disease affects the lives of local residents




Lyme Disease affects the lives of local residents

June 10,2006
ROBIN CLAYTON
The Free Press North Carolina

Nine years ago, Stephanie Tyndall had never had so much as a headache.
Healthy and ambitious, she rarely had a reason to go to her family
physician.

All that changed in the summer of 1997 when Tyndall suddenly came down
with an illness that, even after numerous visits to doctors and
emergency rooms, remained nameless.

"While preparing for a trip with a friend to visit friends in Utah, I
began to feel tired, fatigued," said Tyndall.

Tyndall already had a doctor's appointment about a suspicious-looking
spot on her left shoulder so when she went for that visit, she
mentioned her new symptoms. The doctor, whose identity Tyndall did not
disclose, told her the spot was nothing to worry about and diagnosed
her with a sinus infection.

After two months of being misdiagnosed by multiple doctors and even
told her illness was in her head, Tyndall finally got her answer in
August 1997 when she tested positive for Lyme Disease and Lyme
Meningitis.

"I knew my body well enough to know that something just wasn't
right," said Tyndall.

Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that affects thousands of
Americans every year. According to the Centers of Disease Control and
Prevention, 122 North Carolinians were diagnosed with the disease in
2004.

Sue Vogan, author and Lyme Disease advocate in La Grange, has written a
book and conducts a weekly radio show about the disease. Also diagnosed
with Lyme Disease in 1997, Vogan makes it her mission to educate people
on the condition. She said knowledge of the disease is not widespread
and hopes to change that through advocacy.

"It's very hard disease to diagnose," said Vogan, explaining that
the symptoms of Lyme Disease are similar to those of other diseases
including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's.

Both Tyndall and Vogan still suffer from the affects of Lyme Disease.,
the most frustrating being what Vogan referred to as "Lyme fog," or
short-term memory lost and confusion.

"You forget your address, your phone number, even your best
friend's name," said Vogan, whose Lyme Disease has led to a heart
attack and her having to get her gall bladder removed.

Lyme Disease in its advanced stages is not curable, but "it is
manageable," said Vogan. She explained that sufferers are treated
with antibiotics such as Doxycycline and typically go through periods
of remission in which their symptoms are not obvious.

Since getting her diagnosis almost nine years ago, Tyndall has regained
her life. Living in Deep Run with her parents, she works in the
registration part of Lenoir Memorial Hospital and is going to Lenoir
Community College for nursing. She is also trying to start a support
group for other Lyme Disease sufferers.

Lyme Disease can be a debilitating disease, but Tyndall and Vogan both
say that having a positive attitude can affect the outcome.

"When life hands you Lyme's, make Lymeade," said Tyndall, quoting
a saying from an article she read about a Lyme Disease patient. "Life
has chosen to give me Lyme's and I have chosen to make Lymeade."

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