About this Blog

~Hi, my name is Courtney. I was a full time college student, starting to be a dancer, and used to work with kids part time, living on my own until my illness disabled me.
~I became sick in 2005. I created this blog in the summer of 2006 to record my "headache" diary and to see if anyone finds it interesting.
~12/2006 I lost my job then after, failed a year of college.
~2/2007 Dx Lyme Disease with Bartonella: prescribed 8 months of oral antibiotics. I'm not even sure if I ever had the Lyme Disease.
~11/2007 The doctor took me off medicines while I was still improving but not fully recovered.
~6/2008 Dx Chiari I Malformation by a neurosurgeon in Beverly Hills.
~8/2008 Decompression and Lamenectomy helped 80% of my problems.
~2/2009 Dx Hypermobility by an Orthopedic Surgeon/School Doc: Started PT, dancing, going to school and working.
~6/2009 Started working full time as an Infant-Toddler teacher, which requires lifting. Dancing part time, maybe I'll finish school eventually...lol
~12/2009 Dx Chronic Sinusitis: Stopped dancing due to constant infections.
~2/2010 Sinus Surgery & complication: Severe Epistaxis: Became severely anemic.
~3/2010: Dx Ehlers Danlos Syndrome: by Geneticist
~4/2011: Switched jobs, now work at a Pre-K teacher for 3 and 4 year olds. Less lifting!
~5/2011: Started PT and exercising again

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Climate Change Ticks Ever Closer

On the Leslie St. spit, signs of global warming are being picked right from the feathers of migratory birds. And the ticks now spreading north carry with them the spectre of Lyme disease
Sep 01, 2007 04:30 AM
Hannah Hoag
Special to the Star

At the foot of Leslie St., a spit of land fans out into Lake Ontario. Over the years, the man-made peninsula, built with rubble from Toronto construction sites, has grown into an urban wilderness, home to butterflies, birds, rabbits and the occasional coyote.

The cottonwoods, birches, grasslands and bugs make the park popular with migratory birds that stop in to refuel on their flights – many coming from as far away as South America.

But lurking among the feathers of these international travellers are blood-sucking stowaway ticks that can carry Lyme disease.

Every morning before dawn during the spring and fall bird migration, Dan Derbyshire, co-ordinator of the Bird Research Station in Tommy Thompson Park, organizes a small group of volunteers who track the birds winging through the region.

The station is part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, a string of sites across southern Canada and the northern United States that monitor the population trends of northern breeding birds.

From March to June, in 2005 and 2006, Derbyshire and his team of volunteer birders plucked ticks from the heads of the migrating birds. Then they mailed the ticks to scientists who are trying to gain a better understanding of how birds and climate change might increase the spread of Lyme disease through Canada.

"The number of cases of Lyme disease have been fairly low in Canada, until recently," says Nicholas Ogden, an expert in tick-borne diseases at the Université de Montréal in Quebec and a researcher at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Since the 1970s, parts of the United States have suffered an epidemic of Lyme disease, mostly within the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central states.

In the United States, approximately 20,000 new cases are reported each year. The disease – which causes fever, headaches and can spread to the heart and nervous system if untreated – is rarely reported in Canada, but ranks among the top bug-borne diseases in the United States.

Ten years ago, eastern Canada had only two known populations of Ixodes scapularis, commonly known as the eastern blacklegged tick. Today, there are 13 or 14, says Ogden.

"It's not that those two have spread out, but that there are new ones bobbling up," he says.

They tend to settle in migratory bird landfalls, resource-rich chunks of land near large bodies of water.

Point Pelee National Park is one of the better-known migratory bird landfalls in southern Ontario. Each year millions of migratory birds funnel through this small spit of land that juts into Lake Erie.

But the Leslie St. Spit, the Toronto Islands and the Toronto lakeshore are also popular resting spots for migrants.

Like Point Pelee, the region lies within the crossroads of two major migration flyways. It provides weary-winged travellers a chance to rest during their migration over the Great Lakes and stock up on energy for the next leg of their travels.

"Toronto has always been on the migration highways," says Derbyshire. "There are lots of green spaces where the birds can drop in and rest, and the creation of the spit has really added to that."

Ogden says the migratory birds may be bringing ticks into Canada after passing through the northeastern and north-central states, where they're abundant. The birds may also be carrying ticks from established Canadian populations farther north.

Other researchers have previously found blacklegged ticks on migratory birds. "We just wanted to know if it was rare or a common thing," says Ogden.

Although Ogden won't reveal details of the study until they have been published in a scientific journal, he says all the stations from western Ontario to Nova Scotia captured migratory birds with ticks on them.

"We think migratory birds are quite efficient at spreading the tick around," he says.

But once the ticks are here, will they survive?

Canada's cooler climate once offered protection from the diseases of warmer regions. But as climate change brings milder winters, scientists worry that the ticks – formerly limited by the cold – may move farther north.

"Insects are cold-blooded – air temperature determines body temperature," says Jonathan Patz, Director of the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The warmer air temperature can make it easier for the insect to survive the Canadian winter. It can also speed up the rate at which it develops.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, should greenhouse gas emissions remain high, average summer temperatures in southern Ontario are expected to be 4 to 5 degrees Celsius warmer and average winter temperatures about 6 degrees Celsius warmer before the end of the century.

"All the biological processes that are going on require a certain amount of heat," says Ogden. "If it is very cold, those processes are very slow or will stop altogether."

"When people say why should we worry about a half-degree of warming, it means everything to a mosquito carrying dengue or West Nile virus. It means do you have infectious mosquitoes after 10 days or three weeks?" says Patz.

are people SERIOUSLY afraid of the West Nile and Bird Flu???

The Press of Manorville & The Moriches Sept 7, 2007

Trying to take a bite out of Lyme disease---Romaine calls for tick management

By Bryan Finlayson

Rita Mischke, a resident of Baldwin in Nassau County Long Island, was a part-time Central Park ranger and legal secretary until she became a disabled adult.
The 58-year-old unexpectedly contracted Lyme disease from a tick that latched onto her back during the summer of 1998. Several months later, in October, she started noticing a weakness in her left side. She was dancing at her 50th birthday party when she noticed she was having trouble moving.

Doctors told her that she had multiple sclerosis, a disease that gradually destroys the nervous system. However, she says she was misdiagnosed. After going through eight doctors, she was eventually diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, which, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Ms. Mischke was diagnosed with the disease in 2003, the same year she had to stop working and go on disability. She maintains that the disease has ruined her body.

“It has taken my life away. Because of it, I lost my job and, as you can see, I can hardly walk now,” Ms. Mischke said as her helper dog, Slate, stood beside her. “I certainly hope that I will recover enough to walk on my own. If I get there, then that will be the day I do cartwheels.”

Her story was one of many shared last Thursday afternoon, August 30, during this year’s Lyme Disease Forum, an annual event held at the Suffolk County Center in Riverhead. The event, hosted by Suffolk County Legislator Edward P. Romaine, is meant to spread awareness about the disease. About hundreds from across Long Island attended.

The disease is not obscure and affects the lives of thousands on Long Island each year, Mr. Romaine said. More than 1500 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the state Department of Health every year from our Couties alone. Long Island is seen as a hot spot for ticks carrying the disease, he said.

Meanwhile, there is little the government is doing in the way of prevention. Mr. Romaine said the county spends millions on mosquito control to prevent the West Nile virus, which affects only a handful of people per year, while no money is spent on tick control.
“I can tell you that this is a serious problem,” Mr. Romaine said.

Dr. George Ruggiero, a practicing Lyme physician based in Wading River who spoke at the event, said there is a lack of training in the medical community to detect the disease in patients. He said the disease is problematic to detect because its effects vary greatly from individual to individual. Some people show extreme fatigue, while others exhibit joint pain or trouble focusing.

“Many patients are falling trough the cracks in the medical system,” Dr. Ruggiero said, stating that undiagnosed cases may be 10 times the reported number of cases. “There are so many different symptoms. That is one of the many issues you’re dealing with out in the medical field.”

Though there are doctors who specialize in Lyme disease, a majority of doctors have little training in identifying the disease. Many doctors rely on a series of blood tests to tell if a patient contracted Lyme.

Dr. Joseph J. Burrascano, an East Hampton Lyme physician who retired from practice in 2006, said there are two tests, ELISA and the Western Blot, that doctors use to identify Lyme. Neither test is very sensitive, he said. The ELISA test “if negative, doesn’t rule out Lyme,” and the same goes for the Western Blot test, Dr. Burrascano said.

He said many Lyme patients need antibiotics to combat the illness at its early stages, within several weeks after a tick bite.

Nonetheless, many patients who need antibiotics never get them because the antibody level in blood—what both tests measure to detect Lyme—might fall just short of a pre-established benchmark.

Unfortunately, many patients don’t make it that far because they don’t meet the threshold to make that test positive,” Dr. Burrascano said. “A fair [number] can have a completely normal Western Blot and still have Lyme disease.”
There are two conflicting schools of thought in the medical community that are currently battling over procedures to recognize, and treat, Lyme disease. The Infectious Disease Society of America, currently the standard in the medical community, advocates a three-week treatment period for patients diagnosed with Lyme. That is not enough time to fully treat the disease, Dr. Ruggiero said.
“This shortsightedness for the threeweek period for treatment needs to be eliminated from the thought process,” Dr. Ruggiero said, emphasizing that antibiotic treatment can take months to years. “If it is not treated completely, it will wax and wane for years and years.”

Daniel G. Hassan, 22, of Brookhaven Hamlet, Long Island, said he contracted Lyme when he was 12 years old and was only partially treated. Now his symptoms—including mild seizures and fatigue—are reoccurring, he said. He said he takes 30 pills every day, antibiotics and seizure medications

The disease forced him to reevaluate his life, he said. “It kinda made me, I don’t know, more cautious. It [made] me cherish my brain more, to use my thinking ability as much as I possibly can,” Mr. Hassan said.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

i hate writing these posts as much as i hate taking my medicine

i hate writing these posts as much as i hate taking my medicine. but both are necessary. ive been feeling better the last few days and i'm thinking it has to do with the following or just one of the following:
1) ive been on my new antibiotic for more than a week
2) my cousin and her toddler daughter stayed at our home for 4 days
3) i had my period and now its over
4) i'm happy with school and its filling my mental needs (i dont really know how to put that)

things that have been better:
1) i've been sleeping through the night going to bed earlier and waking up earlier
2) i've been handling this very hot weather rather well
3) i've been eating a little better
4) i was able to walk across the street and back today to get food

things that have been bothering me thought:
1) horrible head pain today (probably from the heat)
2) i was really weak during my period and before
3) anxiety at night
4) i get bouts of narcolepsy randomly
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