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Patrick Plum has lived with Chronic Lyme Disease for the past six years, and has been an amazing advocate for the Lyme community. Read his powerful words below.
“My name is Patrick Plum, and I have chronic Lyme disease. You can’t see it on the outside and most people can’t tell unless they look closely. I, however, have not had a moment where I didn’t feel a symptom for over 6 years. Here is my story:
It was summer of 2012. I was living in the Midwest of the United States a few months before my 33rd birthday.
I had my dream job as a pilot for a major airline for 5 years. I’d been dating a girl for two years and had just bought an engagement ring. I was in excellent shape. I had just earned my first degree black belt, was teaching boxing and working out 2 plus hours a day. I was an avid motorcyclist and enjoyed sharing this passion with others as well as teaching people to ride. On my days off from work I’d often volunteer taking friends and their kids on single engine airplane rides and taught flying part time at a local airport. To be cliche, I was living the dream. My hard work was starting to pay off. One day, I looked in the mirror and saw a big “yellow bruise” on the left side of my chest. It didn’t hurt, so I didn’t think much of it. Little did I know, this rash was about to change my life…
In August I had just returned from a trip to Jackson WY. I’d also been spending a lot of time at my dad’s cabin in western Wisconsin. One morning, I woke up with a pounding headache and what felt like the worst hangover I had ever had. I tired easily and even though I continued to work out, Id get weaker. I thought I’d been working too much or was experiencing jet lag from jumping time zones frequently, but no matter how much I rested, it got worse. Then came a myriad of other symptoms. Digestive problems, swollen glands, fatigue, malaise, muscle stiffness and several others.
I saw MDs, chiropractors, NDs, nutritionists, dentists, physical therapists, infectious disease specialists, etc. After 36 doctors, including some very well known specialists, they found nothing major. Low magnesium, low vitamin D, high Mercury, and high cholesterol. Several doctors attempted to steer me toward a mental health diagnosis, but I knew my body and wouldn’t accept that. I decided to seek out a doctor who just treated Lyme disease, a LLMD. I fit every symptom of it. She asked if I had been tested for Coinfections which, like most people, I had no idea what that was.
In April 2014, I had an answer. I tested positive for several tick borne infections. Since I had what is considered “chronic” or “late stage” Lyme disease, I was told recovery would not be short or easy. This was an understatement.
In May 2014, I made the decision that in order to fully fight Lyme disease head on, I needed to temporarily hang up my wings. My company has been a Godsend and told me to come back whenever I felt better. In May of 2015, I went public to friends, family and over social media.
It’s been the hardest 6 years of my life. Some of my symptoms resolved quickly and completely, others linger. Some of my friends and family amazed me with their compassion, others shocked me with their lack of loyalty. I continue to ride the roller coaster of symptoms. Above my counter with all of my meds and supplements, I have a picture of myself happy, healthy, and in my uniform at work. Since this is my goal and gives me something to work toward. In the mean time, I’ve found a purpose in being an advocate for others suffering from Lyme disease since I know what they’re going through. The crushing loneliness and isolation, the horrifying physical symptoms, and fighting the fear that we may all be stuck this way. All while seemingly fighting this on our own with a large percentage of “modern medicine” ignorantly and foolishly turn their backs on us.
Since doctors are unknowingly poorly educated on this subject, and some don’t believe in chronic Lyme disease at all, I’ve made it one of my goals to educate and spread awareness. Ive used my teaching background as a mode to educate. Some of my posts and videos are meant to hit people deeply on an emotional level. Others are meant to entertain with scientific fact mixed in with humor. Since most people won’t get it until they “get it” (get infected), I have also made it one of my life goals to be a voice for the millions senselessly suffering in silence due to medical ignorance with Lyme disease. I have vowed that the rest of my life will be used to try to change this. I’ll continue to do this long after I’m symptom free and have my “life back.”
That tick attached itself to the wrong person! 😉
I told my full story in a podcast with a functional medicine doctor. You can listen to it at:
Although, I firmly believe my story is still being written. Just like it is for you! There is healing from chronic Lyme disease. Don’t believe me? Keep watching!
You can reach me and see my work on:
Facebook: Patrick plum
www.btbha.com podcast 23,57,112″
Like Alex, Savannah Marcum knows what it’s like to live with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Read her powerful Q&A below.
- How many years have you had MCAS? I’ve been diagnosed with MCAS for a year and a half, but looking back into my health history we see I’ve always had MCAS issues.
- In your own words, what is MCAS? It’s a disease where the body starts to attack itself, and could start to attack anything that’s on or in the body. It could present itself like mild allergies, or it could be so extreme that it leads to death.
- What is it like to suffer from MCAS? We always tell people it’s like PTSD of the immune system. PTSD is a stress triggered reaction in the body that causes the entire system to go into a panic and can cause a wide variety of reactions. MCAS does those same things.
- What specific changes have you noticed in your body from MCAS? After having suffered from chronic Lyme Disease (+co-infections) for 4 years I was diagnosed with MCAS at the very worst of it’s flaring, and at my worst I was having full blown allergic reactions to almost everything. I was having anaphylactic reactions to all except 2 foods, any seasonings, all beverages except one kind of bottled water, antibiotics, fillers in pills, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash/soaps, all face products, all makeup, the gel on razors, laundry detergent, certain fabrics, metals, smells, cleaning supplies, and so much more. My allergic reactions would include getting rashes, itchiness, mouth burning, throat swelling or closing, wheezing, and much more.I lost 20-30 pounds due to only being able to eat 2 foods, I was completely exhausted, I developed painful cystic acne all over my face and back, my hair was falling out in clumps, and even crying would make my face swell up and my eyes would burn and get so swollen they were barely open. I also developed horrendous and extremely painful periods too.
It wasn’t an overnight switch that flipped and suddenly I was allergic to everything. The allergic reactions worsened over time, gradually things just got worse and worse, and past a certain point it became like a snowball effect and things got completely out of control. Everything we tried made it worse, so I had to go a slightly unconventional route and cut out ALL triggers until my body could calm down and stop the snowballing and worsening. I just needed everything to stop.
Long term, after a year and a half of being treated for MCAS, I still have lingering MCAS issues with just about everything, but I’m so much better than I was. We’re re-training my body to no longer have allergic reactions to everything and that is a long process that just takes time.
- Has MCAS affected you mentally? If so, please explain.
Along with all of my physical symptoms of MCAS I also had a lot of neurological symptoms. I deeply suffered from depression, depersonalization, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, OCD, germophobia, anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings. I also had difficulty thinking, brain fog, memory loss, and ironically I’m forgetting my other neurological symptoms.
- What would you say to someone who is currently suffering from MCAS? It’s not ALL in your head, but some of it is. Proper diagnosis and treatment is the number one priority in my eyes, and beyond that comes brain retraining. After you’ve been sick for an extended period of time your entire system gets used to functioning and reacting certain way. You have to re-train your entire body how to think, and be healthy, and it does take time. Be patient, gentle, and kind with yourself. Dedicate to a healing regimen that works for YOU and your unique needs, and keep moving forwards. Sometimes all you’ll take are baby steps forward, but any improvement is still improvement. Be proud of every step you take forward, and never give up.
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