Lyme disease is a serious condition that affects thousands of people worldwide, and is one of the most controversial diseases in medical history. It is also the source of a considerable amount of bullshit.
Lyme disease takes its common name from the area in Connecticut where it was studied in the mid-1970s. In 1982 a researcher named Willy Burgdorfer figured out that it was transmitted to humans by ticks. These are pretty much the only two times the scientific community came to any sort of widespread agreement about Lyme disease.
Since that time, the topic of Lyme disease has created at least two opposing camps, pitted against each other in almost every regard. On one side is the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), which contends that Lyme disease is rare, easy to treat and almost totally restricted to certain discrete regions of the world. On the other side is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), which contends that Lyme is not rare and can be found in virtually any part of the world, along with a widening cohort of complicating co-infections. Protests, lawsuits, threats of personal violence and other medically unconventional acts have followed since this rift appeared, leading to its being dubbed the "Lyme War."
They may look harmless...
In addition to the growing rift between the two scientific Lyme camps, the disease has become inordinately popular - for a disease, that is - and, as with all popular things in America, it has spawned no small amount of ridiculous nonsense, especially in regards to treatment.
When it's used: In early cases, when the infection is still new
How effective is it: In early cases, it's pretty effective; in late cases, not so much
Possible side effects: Feeling like a pussy for needing such a weak medication
When it's used: In acute and early-disseminated cases
How effective is it: Slightly better than amox, but not by a lot
Possible side effects: Increased sensitivity to sunlight (i.e., vampirism)
When it's used: Early- and late-disseminated cases
How effective is it: It can penetrate cells, which is useful, but it also kills indescriminately
Possible side effects: Everything tastes like hell, and good luck digesting food
When it's used: Neurological and chronic cases
How effective is it: Very, if you can stand it (it's an IV that goes everywhere you go)
Possible side effects: Looking absolutely ridiculous in a swimming pool
What is it: Naturopathic compound made from Chinese cat's claw (it's a plant, people)
How effective is it: Patient reports vary, but overall it seems pretty effective
Possible side effects: Dreads, growing a beard, driving a Prius
What is it: Essential element that Lyme tends to deplete
How effective is it: Studies show it helps a lot with cardiac symptoms
Possible side effects: If you take too much your heart will explode
What is it: An herbal supplement that's recommended for pretty much everything
How effective is it: Nobody knows, but it doesn't seem to hurt anything
Possible side effects: Tastes like rat feces dipped in poison
Acupuncture, Massage Therapy or Yoga
What is it: Any one of various practices that we've "adapted" from the Far East
How effective is it: Ineffective at curing the disease, but very effective at relieving symptoms
Possible side effects: Meeting open-minded people, exchanging phone numbers, getting laid
*These are "complimentary" treatments because every legitimate study ever conducted suggests that they be used in addition to pharmaceutical treatments.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
What is it: High-pressure oxygen delivered in a small chamber, designed to help divers with the bends
What it's supposed to do for Lyme patients: Deprive microbes of oxygen, thereby killing them
What it really does for Lyme patients: Deprives them of lots and lots of money
What is it: A machine that matches and oscillates electromagnetic (EM) resonances
What it's supposed to do for Lyme patients: Destroy microbes by matching their EM frequencies
What it really does for Lyme patients: Destroy their credibility in the medical community
What is it: The popular (in certain circles) idea that smells can alter physical states
What it's supposed to do for Lyme patients: The right atmosphere can make a world of difference
What it really does for Lyme patients: Makes them smell weird in addition to being really sick
Hydrogen Peroxide Injections
What is it: Exactly what it sounds like - injections of hydrogen peroxide into the bloodstream
What it's supposed to do for Lyme patients: In ley terms, it's supposed to kill pathogens
What it really does for Lyme patients: It kills them
Lyme disease comes in at number two, between "multiple chemical sensitivity" and Bipolar Disorder.
The Comments section of just about any funny, well-researched, and/or controversial article is always chock full of insightfully erudite soliloquies delivered in an unequivocally even-handed spirit of objectivism, and this one is no exception. For example:
"I'm a sociopath Aspie that also happens to be bi-polar. I also have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Lyme disease. And if I even think about eating gluten I will s**t unicorns, that's how bad my gluten intolerance is! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! I WANT YOUR ATTENTION AND SYMPATHY MO FOS!"
"I have all of these :( Plz gimme all ur sympathies."
"High five! no...wait im paralyzed by my lyme disease....."
"Do your research next time!"
"Dude. This guy should do at least SOME research." (Note: the author wasn't a guy.)
And my personal favorite:
"I can't believe I'm taking this article seriously, considering its [sic] an article about medical conditions, on the 'great medical journal' that is cracked, [sic] written by the esteemed 'doctor', [sic] Christina H [sic] who apparently conducted a 'study' to find all this s**t out for us. BUT maybe instead of ridiculing those who have been diagnosed with a condition thats [sic] on the rise, we should be asking ourselves why they are on the rise and how we could stop it. [sic] now [sic] THATS [sic] an article I'd like to read!"
(For those of you who don't have college degrees in writing: [sic] is used to indicate uncorrected grammatical mistakes in the original quotation. Its use in this instance is to underscore "narrative irony," as the author is trying to make an educated argument while writing like a nine year-old.)
To make this as concise as possible, here is why members of the Lyme community shouldn't be offended by - and should, in fact, embrace - that article: it isn't about the legitimacy of the diseases themselves, it's about their inexplicable trendiness. If you think the author was attacking the disease and/or its patients then you need to go back to school and review what a "thesis" is.
Do this: imagine for a moment that you really, really loved a certain band that very few people had ever heard of. For years you spent money on CDs, concert tickets and t-shirts, and thought of yourself as one of a privileged few. And then they made that one song that got played on the radio, and suddenly everybody was on board. The prices of CDs, concert tickets and t-shirts absolutely skyrocketed. Suddenly you weren't part of an elite, you were part of a trend, and hipsters and music critics across the land started decrying everyone who was into that band as a poseur - including you. Pretty goddamn frustrating, right? (That's not an arbitrary example, by the way; it happened to me with Modest Mouse. And Lyme disease.)
Go to one of their concerts and yell PLAY FREE BIRD. Trust me, they love it.
Now replace "loved a certain band" with "suffered from a debilitating disease," replace "privileged" with "fucked," replace "they made that one song that got played on the radio" with "someone made a documentary about it," replace "CDs, concert tickets and t-shirts" with "medical care," and replace "hipsters and music critics" with "doctors," and you can start to imagine how it feels to suffer from a serious illness that suddenly becomes hip...
You'll have to do a Ctl+F to find the reference, but it's a fucking good one.