Lyme disease can be debilitating

Excerpted from  the ( Posted: 05/31/2011 ) 

Karleen Sundermeier ran up to eight miles every day for 10 years, but now she’s bed-ridden 90 percent of the day.

It started with the flu in 2007 — she describes it as the worst flu she has ever had. Until January 2011, she thought she had multiple sclerosis. But this year, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

“Most doctors don’t believe it’s here in Nebraska or in the Midwest,” Sundermeier said. “But it’s in every state.”

She doesn’t remember a tick or a bull’s-eye rash — the initial sign of a Lyme infection. But she was probably infected during a day jeeping on the Platte River with friends.

“It doesn’t look like I’m sick on the outside, but it’s completely destroying my body on the inside,” said Sundermeier, who has lived in Grand Island since she was 18.

And she’s right. With her makeup thoroughly applied and long brown hair, Sundermeier looks like any other 31-year-old. You can’t tell she had to lie down twice while trying to cover her illness with blush and eyeliner. But an hour at Tommy’s Restaurant on May 20 is the longest she has been out of the house for about a year.

“I was fitness queen,” Sundermeier said. “I think that’s probably what has kept me from being in a wheelchair or probably dead, because this disease can kill you.”

Once she stands up to walk from the back of the diner to her mother’s car, it’s a little more apparent. She said she “walks funny” because of rheumatoid arthritis caused by the Lyme disease.

Because Sundermeier doesn’t look sick, she often has to explain her illness to friends and family.

“It’s like I have MS going on in my body,” she said. “And it’s like I’ve had a stroke in my brain.”

For the complete article:

~ by Rob on June 15, 2011.

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