October 7, 2022 – Forest exploration, hiking, summer camp, and regular trips to the dog park were regular activities growing up in New Jersey. Megan Bradshaw has described herself as a healthy, energetic young girl who has a great affinity for the outdoors. But things changed when she started having sporadic and unrelated health problems like exhaustionAnd the dizzy spellsAnd the body aches. After seeing a variety of medical professionals to uncover the roots of these problems, their lab results were always inconclusive.
Bradshaw and her doctors were unaware of her illness due to a parasite. Bradshaw had contracted Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can come from the bite of a black tick — also known as a deer tick — if it remains attached to your body for 36 to 48 hours. Symptoms can including memory lossAnd the Joint painAnd the droop muscles on one or both sides of your face, and Numbness or numbness in parts of your body.
Bradshaw’s health continued to decline when she jumped from East Coast to West Coast in her early twenties to work As a retail manager at Nordstrom. Her illness was not debilitating until she got a job promotion in Nashville that left her bedridden. She can no longer perform everyday tasks such as holding a toothbrush or washing dishes.
Bradshaw’s knees began to fill with fluid. Her doctor diagnosed her Rheumatoid arthritis, which is the closest thing he can think of to explaining her “mysterious” illness. She should have had her hip replacing 26 years old
“He. She [the disease] Bradshaw, now 29, says. “I was a coincidence of myself. It was terrifying.”
A specialist referred Bradshaw to a functional medicine doctor, who began asking questions about her upbringing. When Bradshaw was discovered he was from New Jersey, where the black-shelled tick is very common subscriberHe asked her doctor a question that changed everything.
“Have you ever been tested for Lyme disease?”
The years passed quickly. Bradshaw now had 16 joints reconstructed and eight joint replacements, all due to the late detection of Lyme disease. She’s preparing to have her elbow replaced, along with a second surgery on each hand, all of which should be completed within the next year. We hope then that you “take a break”. She says there will likely be more surgeries on the way to replace her joint replacements.
The Bradshaw experience is extremely rare for Lyme patients, says Glenn Gaston, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoCarolina in Charlotte. Only a small number of Lyme disease patients develop arthritis, especially if treated early, says Gaston, who operated on Bradshaw’s hands. If a patient develops arthritis, it usually affects only one joint, most often the knee.
“I’ve never heard or read in a textbook case to the degree of Megan’s, about having to have multiple joint replacements and multiple surgeries, especially at such a young age,” Gaston says.
When asked why the diagnosis of Bradshaw Lyme disease has remained a mystery for so long, Gaston said the disease can be difficult to detect.
“The biggest reason I see the delay in detection and treatment of Lyme disease is that it’s often not at the forefront of clinicians’ minds, particularly depending on where the patient lives,” he says. “If they live in Connecticut, where Lyme disease comes from (Lime, Connecticut), it makes sense for them to think about it early on. The further away you are from the diagnostic center, the less doctors think about it in their differentiation.”
If you remove the tick before 48 hours, you will likely not get sick. Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, so it can be difficult to detect. But one of the main signs of a tick bite is the appearance of a rash that looks like a bull’s eye. If you catch it early, Lyme disease can be treated and cured with antibiotics. But with late detection (like Bradshaw), treatment and recovery becomes more difficult. Good news: a vaccine for Lyme disease Currently In phase III clinical trials with drug makers Pfizer And Valneva.
One of the hardest things Bradshaw could deal with was thinking about what life would have been like if, early on, the doctors had asked questions about her upbringing.
“I have severe medical shock I live it again every 3 months after another painful surgery‘ she says. ‘She’s constantly going through a cycle of grief.’
Bradshaw is often nicknamed “electronic The woman’ that you find endearing.
“I use humor as a coping mechanism,” she says. “I should laugh about it. Because if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry, and that’s healthier for me.”
Good healthcare is one of Bradshaw’s main sources of gratitude. Her surgeries and medical care have incurred over a million dollars in medical costs, Her insurance covered the majority, and she paid the rest out of her pocket. Bradshaw He often speaks publicly about the lack of access to quality health care for some marginalized communities, such as LGBTQ+ people, immigrant groups, and people of color.
“I am very fortunate that I was able to get to the improvement of my conditions,” she says. “A lot of people have no means to an end.”
While it may be easy to get angry or even discontentFor her late diagnosis, Bradshaw shifted her focus toward advocating for tick-borne disease awareness, which was “too curative” for her.
“I can look in hindsight and see all the things that were wrong in my way and in this experience,” she says. “I’m like, ‘That’s how it should be.'” Here’s how we can fix it. I want to be a part of that.”
Bradshaw recently co-founded a non-profit organization, Tag JEDI . Alliance (JEDI stands for “Juvenile Educational Defense Initiative”) that strives to put tick safety education into the mainstream health science curriculum.
Children should learn this [tick safety] As a basic life skill, the same way they learn about hand washing.”
To help avoid late detection of Lyme disease, or any other disease, Bradshaw offers these tips.
You know your body better than anyone else.
“Doctors are incredibly adept, talented, and knowledgeable about many things. But at the end of the day, everyone is still human. There may be times when you have something beyond their knowledge. If the doctor you see isn’t a good fit, and you are able to get in Care is elsewhere, find someone who might be a good fit for you.”
Use patient support groups.
“I think there is a lot you can learn from other individuals and from their experiences, both good and bad. I have found them to be very useful in my own experience.”
Get a support person.
“There were a few times, especially at the beginning of my journey, where I was emotionally stunned when dealing with these things. My parents were there to take notes and absorb everything for me. Get someone supportive because it’s hard to do these things on your own.”
Editor’s Note: Here’s more information about Lyme disease .
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