SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Carly Lisonbee lives with lyme disease.
“It started with anxiety and depression and I always had joint pain growing up,” she said.
Lisonbee works at the Rising Health Clinic in Salt Lake City and did not know she had lyme disease until she saw other patients with her symptoms. Soon after, she decided to take the test.
“It came back positive, so (everything growing up) kind of made sense,” she said.
Lisonebee is now receiving treatment, but it’s not a quick process.
“Treating lyme is daily for months,” Lisonbee said.
She does IV therapy twice a week, as well as infrared sauna and herbal medicines. Taking medicine, she said, is part of getting better.
“Every lymee knows that they’re taking 20 supplements a day. That’s kind of how it is,” Lisonbee said.
Sharlene Watson, Lisonbee’s nurse practitioner, said there is no cure for lyme disease, only ways to control the symptoms and the possibility of putting the disease in remission. This means the patients need constant care – and some even drive all the way across the country to get it.
“They need to have somebody who is available, so sometimes they have to travel a long ways away. We have Canadians,” Watson said.
She also said it’s hard enough to find a doctor who specializes in the disease, but it’s even harder to get insurance coverage for each doctor visit.
“Insurance consistently wants to deny the treatment for lyme. It’s a political problem,” Watson said.
Watson also said lyme usually comes from ticks, but it’s possible that mosquitos and chiggers also carry the disease. Regardless of where it comes from, the number of lyme disease cases is growing.
“The Center for Disease Control (is) saying there’s 350,000 new cases a year,” Watson said. “That supersedes AIDS. That supersedes malaria.”
Lyme patients are not alone in their struggle. The Utah Disease Alliance has a Facebook page where over 450 members like Lisonbee can seek the help they need.
Lisonbee said she really appreciates the support from the group.
“Especially with lyme, people don’t understand how it feels unless you have it,” she said. “So the support group can share everyone else’s stories that you can relate to.”
Lisonbee understands that she will live with the chronic disease forever, but knows it will become increasingly manageable as doctors get involved with treatments and studies. Through their efforts, she hopes one day there will be a cure.
For more information on prevention and treatment check out the Utah Lyme Disease Alliance website.