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Ask Dr. Gott
Untreated symptoms of Lyme disease are costly
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DEAR DR. GOTT: Our daughter suffered over 1-1/2 years with Lyme disease before it was diagnosed. She was misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She saw an internist and two rheumatologists before going to a preventive medicine clinic in San Francisco where the Lyme test was given and came back positive.
    She has been treated for Lyme since January of this year and is slowly improving. A very high level of pain and suffering not to mention cost because doctors don't believe Lyme is here and refuse to test. We know of six misdiagnosed cases in Northern California recently. Thank you so much for anything more you can do to spread the word that if there are ANY symptoms -- not all, ANY -- of Lyme to test, no matter where a person lives. Your article in the paper concerning the man who took his life because of the pain of Lyme made my heart ache.
    DEAR READER: Lyme disease can be a dreadful affliction. I know because I was recently treated for it. My symptoms were malaise, weakness, poor coordination, extreme fatigue and loss of appetite.
    My primary care physician examined me and noted a circular bulls-eye rash on my back, a blood test confirmed the diagnosis of Lyme, for which I was prescribed doxycycline for three weeks. Unfortunately, this occurred two days before my vacation at the shore. Thinking that the sun sensitivity caused by the antibiotic occurred only with protracted exposure, I rode my bike and swam. On the fifth day of my holiday, I awoke with redness, sensitivity and blistering of my arms, face and lower legs -- the very body parts that I failed to protect. My remaining vacation was, to say the least, somewhat disappointing. Now one month later, I have recovered from both the Lyme and my reckless stupidity -- but I have new respect for Lyme as well as the enlightenment that here is one doctor who failed to follow his own advice to patients (stay out of direct sunlight when you take doxycycline) -- with potentially disastrous consequences.
    Your comments are well grounded.
    If you and I can help only one misdiagnosed patient, we have done a good job. Thanks for sharing.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Your column regarding the reader who wished to bring back some of your earlier essays and your reply quoting the Maine Doctor, has reminded me of the doctor who brought me into the world 89 years ago.
    Every morning, Dr. Frost always walked from his house to the Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, N.H., where he had a general practice. A great deal of his work was taking babies from infancy through adulthood. Because of his habit to cross the Dartmouth Campus on his way to work, occasionally a young mother would accost him. One morning an excited woman met him with, "Oh Doctor, I'm so glad to see you. I have a very important question to ask." Without waiting for his answer she blurted out, "How often do I boil Junior's toys?" Without missing a step, he answered, "As often as you boil Junior; good day, madam."
    Hope this helps to make your day. We enjoy your column.
    DEAR READER: I love these anecdotes about old-fashioned doctors, especially since I am one. I hope Dr. Frost's patients had senses of humor that approached his!
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