Have you ever feared a beast within you?
When I was a high school freshman, my parents went to see the animated version of Beauty and the Beast. I must’ve been busy or out-of-town, because my dad told me about it over the phone.
“Belle reminds me of you,” he said. “She’s kind, pretty, and a little strange!”
Sure enough, since the day I saw the film for myself, Belle has been my favorite Disney princess. Like her, I’m a curious bookworm, an imaginative dreamer, and, yes—more than a little—strange.
What I didn’t know at the time was that, one day, I would come face-to-face with a beast.
The Bartonella Beast
After I went med-free and recovered from the flu, I felt great. For a month or two. Then strange symptoms started creeping back. Chief among them were anxiety, irritability, and stabbing pains.
We all feel worried and frustrated at times, but my mood and personality changed so much that sometimes I felt like a different person.
When I was single and serving as a youth leader, the girls in my small group asked me, “Do you ever get mad?” Apparently, they didn’t think I did, or at least had never seen it, though we spent a lot of time together.
Getting married and having kids made me realize I’m not as patient as I had assumed. Still, these intense flashes of anger and apprehension were unusual.
To make matters worse, I sometimes felt so cold-hearted that I wanted to push my children away. What was happening to me? Was I becoming a terrible mother?
I had to fight the urges of this beast that was rising within me.
Over the next couple months, I developed more symptoms. My eyes swelled. My neck and scalp itched. A papule appeared on my elbow crease. A ganglion cyst formed on my left hand. A lymph node under my arm grew tender.
Sometimes I felt tired. Other times I felt dazed, dizzy, or lightheaded. Low-grade fevers came and went, elevating my temperature to around 100 degrees.
One day I even forgot our house number.
My thoughts spun, and my stomach churned. Were my Lyme symptoms returning?
Dr. McIntyre’s Revelation
At my next appointment with my Lyme specialist, she said, “I think we treated the Lyme and babesiosis successfully, but you’re having a lot of Bartonella symptoms!”
“We really need to figure out what we’re dealing with,” Dr. McIntyre said. So, she ordered blood tests for co-infections through IGeneX. All my previous tests she’d ordered through LabCorp, since—unlike IGeneX—they’re covered by our insurance. But IGeneX is considered the most accurate and sensitive lab for tick-borne diseases.