STRONGER THAN YESTERDAY
-A Journey In Recovery-
Battling Rheumatologic and Neurologic Bartonellosis
After receiving a definitive diagnosis of Bartonellosis, I could not have been more elated. Elated to put a name to the disseminated disease responsible for my painful degenerative arthritis, muscle and joint break down, immune dysfunction, and neurological symptoms.
Communication on my part has been poor, attaining a diagnosis has been all consuming. Many do not know the extent of illness or understand how I can look perfectly normal on the outside while my body is fighting a war within… what this disease even is, let alone what it is capable of doing. Sometimes a diagnosis speaks for itself, in this case, the term is foreign to most that encounter it, rendering it unrelatable.
The last 3 years have been a slow progressive decline, which led to a debilitating state in 2019. Following a cat bite in 2017, I've been plagued with countless injuries, delayed healing, and mysterious inflammatory conditions. This disease is hour-by-hour, sometimes minute-by-minute. It is periods of feeling like you are better followed by massive malfunction. I never know what my day will bring, what my capabilities will be.... or what new injury I'll be nursing.
After seeing over 50 doctors in multiple specialties, some 2nd and 3rd opinions, human medicine continued to fail me. It was full of misdiagnosis, disregard, atypical manifestations of presumptive syndromes and complex pain. My requests for zoonotic evaluation and advanced microbial testing fell on deaf ears. There was a definitive dismissal, in the most absolute way, on a disease process I had more experience with than any of the MD's consulted. Zoonoses are at the forefront of Veterinary Medicine, we are constantly redefining these pathogens and respective risks to public health. By fall 2019, human medicine had nothing left to offer. My symptoms were fast-declining and my fear for reaching a 'point of no return' was becoming a reality. I started contacting Galaxy Diagnostics and Universities that were researching Vector-Borne Disease. It took me (an Emergency Veterinarian) corresponding with Dr Ed Breitschwerdt (an Infectious Disease Veterinarian) in order to attain my diagnosis. Without Dr. B's work and his advanced testing methods for intracellular disease, I would still be spiraling to confirm my suspicions, suspicions that only existed because of his research! This pathogen is fascinating, yet equally terrifying. Treatment has been started, it is extensive and holds some uncertainties in prognosis or if curable. All that matters is that I can fight and that we finally understand the cause of the complex multisystem derangements occurring in my body. So many aren't afforded that gift.
This journey has been isolating, one of relentless self-advocacy and God's blessing to find an answer. I hope this site elaborates more on the condition that has taken over my life, encourages others who might be suffering and brings awareness to a form of infectious disease surprisingly not well-known, especially for my veterinary colleagues who are at higher risk. I am hopeful, excited to start healing and know support from family and friends will be crucial.
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you; for all the prayers and support thus far.