Angela Naeth

PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETE

Keep Moving Forward

Keep Moving Forward…

Three words that are now a daily mantra. My boyfriend told them to me after 70.3 Los Cabos in late November of last year. I was getting some odd leg pain that would come and go, and found it difficult to train sometimes. I never thought much of the pain until after 70.3 Bahrain, when we flew over 14 hours in each direction.  My right leg was inflamed, sore and I couldn’t walk after the race properly.  We chalked it up to the long travel and it was my last race of the season. It was time for a quick reset, anyhow, so rest was already on the schedule.  

But the two weeks off didn’t help.  That was the start of many symptoms I developed over the ensuing months.  I kept getting extreme pain in my torso, hips, quads… that would subside for a bit, but then come back. I was not recovering well from workouts, and I was willing myself to get out of bed most days.  I was getting depressed, I found it hard to work at a computer without the font 4x the normal size. I couldn’t sleep, I had high anxiety, and depression was starting to set in. This was not the normal me. 

…  My timeline, symptoms and narrative is like most people who discover they have Lyme disease - by going to numerous doctors, normal blood tests (most), and thinking that these random excruciating pains, in joints and muscles, and extreme fatigue are just in their head or attributable to something else.  Lyme disease effects everyone differently and like 40-50% of the people who develop the disease, I don't remember a bite from a tick.

My hope is that, if someone has any mystery symptoms, that often elude doctors, that they can consider the possibility of Lyme and/or other tick-borne illnesses, and can get the proper testing to find out. 

Next entry: My full timeline of my symptoms, how I came to my diagnosis, my treatment regiment to date, and what I’ve learned, so far.   

Here’s some quick facts on Lyme Disease you might not have been aware of! 

  • Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness from the bacteria Borrelia
  • It comes from a tick bite that only 40-60% ever remember
  • The tick carries infectious bacteria(s), so co-infections are common
  • These infections are anaerobic and spread though out your body, to first where you lack oxygen…i.e. joints
  • There is typically an incubation period after the bite from anywhere between 3 and 30 days
  • Most can often pinpoint an unexplained sickness, at some point after a bite
  • Joints start aching, and other symptoms start to develop - muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog, suppressed mood and many, many more. 
  • The bacteria then get dormant and start to multiply, and regresses into the body. 
  • The bacteria move onto your brain, liver, kidneys and muscles, and can lie dormant for indefinite periods
  • After acute stressors (ie. racing, training hard, travel, etc.) they can start wreaking havoc on the body
  • ·Most standard Lyme tests fail
  • Many, many doctors do not understand Lyme
  • Barbara Johnson, an expert with the CDC Lyme program, reveals that in testing for Lyme “the current two-tier method is positive in only 31 percent of those with erythema migrans (the bull’s-eye rash associated with Lyme disease). This means that out of 100 patients who have Lyme disease, we might misdiagnose 69 of them, leaving their infections untreated … “

    If you or know someone who may feel ill, yet look so healthy, consider going to a doctor that specializes in Lyme. They are typically referred to as Lyme Literate Medical Doctors (LLMDs). There are DNA tests that identify Lyme where the standard testing fails. 

Diagnosed With Lyme

Diagnosed with Lyme. 

I have recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, alongside two other tick-borne pathogens/co-infections. I am a professional triathlete, and fully rely on my body to make a living, as well as doing the things that I most enjoy. Since November, I started to struggle using my body for these things, with unexplained muscle pain and fatigue. With months lost to doctors, PTs, and myself all shaking our heads, I started down the path towards Lyme. I had X-Rays, MRIs, countless blood tests…They all pointed to inflammation, and I was told that I just needed to take some time off. The standard Lyme testing protocol came back negative. But I am nothing, if not consistently persistent, and found myself a Lyme specialist who ran some deeper testing, and found the infections.

Over the past few weeks I have begun the process of educating myself on all things Lyme. I have reached out, and spoken, to countless people about their experiences. Some athletes, some not, all in an attempt to understand what my journey might look like, and how this could affect me, as a person and as an athlete.

So, because of this, and how frustrating the experience has been, I want to help bring awareness to this illness. Lyme disease is something that affects people in many, many different ways, and looks like many, many different things, often going mis- or un-diagnosed, for years.  My hope is that, if someone has any of these mystery symptoms, that often elude doctors, that they can consider the possibility of Lyme and/or other tick-borne illnesses, and can get the proper testing to find out. According to the CDC, between about 300,000 and 500,000 go undiagnosed, each year, with these illnesses on the rise and growing at an increasing rate! If not caught early, Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness can have devastating effects on someone’s life. 

In some cases the symptoms can clear up quickly, with proper diagnoses and treatments. In others, it can be a long uncertain road. As of right now, it looks as though I may be on a steady path forward, but only time will tell. I intend to use this blog as a chronicle of my own journey, and hope to help others to more quickly identify the possibility of the infection(s), how to properly diagnose them, and how best to work with the treatments to come. And, most importantly, my return to health. I want to help others avoid the ambiguity and confusion that I experienced, so that they can start their own path to health as quickly as possible.

Next post: http://www.angelanaeth.com/updates/2018/5/15/keep-moving-forwards