Fisher: Learning about Lyme disease the hard way

Yet another prime example of how non Lyme literate doctors easily diagnose patients with textbook diseases and dismiss or disregard Lyme altogether. 

The odds of getting ALS are so miniscule compared to getting Lyme.  It’s frightening that doctors are not aware of this and still are so quick to diagnose patients with incurable diseases.  Unless the patient is allergic, a short regimen of antibiotics to evaluate a patient’s reaction has to be better than waiting to die.

 Fortunately, this San Diego man was skeptical of his doctor’s diagnosis and continued to seek other medical opinions until Lyme was uncovered to be the problem.

Excerpted from MERCURYNEWS.COM ( Posted: 1/22/2010 )

A month ago, Bart Fenolio was told he had Lou Gehrig’s disease and had two months to live. Doctors advised his wife, Heidi, to take him home and call a hospice.

 “How could you miss that little tidbit of her history?” he wondered.

But Fenolio is proving the doctors wrong. Instead of getting worse, he’s growing stronger each day, thanks to antibiotics. That’s because he doesn’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease, which isn’t curable. He has Lyme disease, which is.

Lyme disease, a bacterial illness spread by ticks, is a poorly understood and strangely controversial illness that has been sweeping the country since it was discovered in Connecticut in the 1970s. While still rare in California, there were 28,921 confirmed cases and 6,277 probable cases in the United States in 2008, nearly twice as many as in 1994.

But Lyme experts suspect there could be 10 times that many. That’s because when not treated immediately, Lyme can hide in the body for years and then attack, masquerading as anything from heart disease to arthritis to lupus. Folks might not even know they’d been bitten. And the tests for Lyme disease are notoriously unreliable.

Dr. Raphael Stricker, a Lyme disease expert in San Francisco, regularly sees patients who have been misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or Parkinson’s disease.

“I saw a new patient the other day who had weird symptoms and had gone to the Mayo Clinic for a complete work-up,” Stricker told me. “All they could come up with was fibromyalgia,” a syndrome characterized

by chronic pain, fatigue and depression. Stricker learned that the woman had grown up on Cape Cod, where Lyme-carrying ticks are common.

More at:

~ by Rob on January 22, 2010.

One Response to “Fisher: Learning about Lyme disease the hard way”

  1. 7-29-2010 update

    Bart Fenolio still tires easily, needs a walker to get around and has occasional memory lapses. He knows it could take years for him to overcome the devastating effects of chronic Lyme disease.

    But for a 70-year-old guy who had been told he was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and couldn’t breathe on his own or pick up a cell phone when I saw him six months ago, Fenolio looks pretty darn good. And he is counting his blessings

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