Our Lyme Disease Story

Lyme in the Time of COVID-19

What happens when Lyme season overlaps with a global pandemic? Or when an immune system compromised by Lyme confronts COVID-19?

On December 12, since labs showed I was vulnerable to measles and pneumonia, Dr. Brinkley ordered vaccines. She said my weak immune system could do one of three things:

1. Nothing.

2. Make antibodies, like it should.

3. Make me really sick.

I bit my lip. Was two weeks before Christmas the best time to risk getting “really sick?”

Of course, the NHS says, “It’s not possible to catch a pneumococcal infection from the vaccine….” 

Still, two weeks later, I was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Christy Brunke with family on Christmas morning 2019
Me on Christmas morning: not feeling well, but enjoying my family and trying to rise to the occasion.

Did COVID-19 Cause My Pneumonia?

After reading my last blog post, a friend asked if I had the coronavirus over the holidays. 

Just after New Year’s, her son was hospitalized for diarrhea and a serious case of pneumonia. At the time, they couldn’t figure out why he had pneumonia, but now they suspect COVID-19. Did the virus cause my Christmas pneumonia too?  

The first U.S. case wasn’t confirmed until January 20. Yet in December, China was treating “dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause.” Though we weren’t yet familiar with this virus, maybe it hit the States by December too.

Lyme in the Time of COVID-19
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

The Year the World Shut Down

On January 23, the same day China quarantined Wuhan, I got follow-up labs. Fortunately, the results showed I was now immune to most kinds of pneumonia. Unfortunately, I was still not immune to types four and twenty-three or measles. 

January 2020: At our daughter Angelina’s ballet recital.

In fact, I was still so vulnerable to measles, Dr. Brinkley assumed I hadn’t even gotten the vaccine. But the records—and my memory—showed I had. The nurse gave me one more shot, and then they let it rest without retesting. After all, a third measles shot could lead to diabetes. 

Two months later, on March 12, we found out Maryland schools were closing for eleven days. Little did we know then that our daughters wouldn’t be returning to school at all that semester or the next.

Lyme Season Strikes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

But just as COVID started to really hammer the U.S., Lyme season began. March marks the start of this seven-month season of heightened risk for Lyme disease. As if it wasn’t confusing enough to distinguish between acute versus chronic symptoms, now add Lyme and COVID-19 to the mix.

Over the summer, I had two coronavirus tests: one in June and the other in August. Both were after traveling out of state.

The first time, my symptoms probably stemmed from severe allergies due to being in a new part of the country. The second, they mirrored a cold that turned into bronchitis, a sinus infection, or both. Still, I wanted to be sure. 

The Symptoms of COVID-19 Compared to Allergies, a Cold, and Early Lyme Disease

Thankfully, both tests returned negative. But what ever happened with my drug-induced lupus? Click here to continue reading my story!

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