Friday, April 13, 2012

Dr. Phil on Chronic Lyme


Dr. Phil McGraw had a show on today titled "Deadly Consequences." This show featured the stories of three women suffering from chronic Lyme disease.

The first guest was Stephanie Vostry,  a 25-year-old model who was living in extreme pain from chronic Lyme. She was having seizures, one of which was caught on camera. She had resorted to using whippets (nitrous oxide) to numb her pain. She mentioned she had already spent over $40,000 on treatment and nothing had worked. She, like many Lyme patients had been accused of making things up. At one point she asked Dr. Phil, "Why would I make this up?" to which he replied that there are a lot of reasons that hypochondriacs make things up such as for attention, to escape the expectations of life or for sympathy. At this point I started to get worried. Whose side was Dr. Phil on?

Soon after this part of the conversation, Dr. Phil deferred to one of his producers who was filming Stephanie during the seizure. She verified that Stephanie could not have acted out that type of pain.

The next guest was Brook Landau, the weather forecaster who documented her decade long struggle with Lyme disease. She talked about how she went to sleep one day perfectly fine and woke up paralyzed. Her spinal taps were coming up positive, but her western blots were always negative so most doctors refused to treat her for Lyme until she found a LLMD.

Then Dr. Phil had on one of his own producers who is struggling with chronic Lyme and is on IV meds. At this point, he mentioned his feelings that he knew this woman, he knew she was not making things up, and although he did not specifically state his position, it was clear that he agreed that chronic Lyme is not a fabricated condition.

Dr. Phil had on two doctors who stated their opinions very briefly. One was representing the IDSA side of things. He mentioned that there is no evidence that long-term antibiotics are helpful for Lyme disease. Brook was given a chance to counter his statement which she did very well by stating that long-term antibiotics gave her her sight back, her hearing back, her body back etc.

The LLMD on the show also had a chance to speak. She brought up a study about monkeys and how the Lyme bacteria had persisted after antibiotics. She made it clear that she is not a "voodoo" doctor. That patients come to her having been treated under a certain guideline (the IDSA's), the guideline was not effective, and now it's her job to help the patients. She offered to treat Stephanie free of charge.

Overall, I thought the show was well-done. I think it will really be an eye opener for the general public. I know that on a daily basis, I am often met with people who dispute the fact that Lyme is a serious condition. Many people will say to me "I had Lyme, I just took 2 weeks of antibiotics."

Others conversations will go like this. "My son had Lyme really badly."
"Oh wow, how long did he have it for?"
"He had a high fever for a week before the antibiotic lowered it. Then he took it for a few more days and was fine."

This is the common misconception associated with Lyme in my area. Nobody even knows about co-infections here. The opinion of Lyme is that it's no more serious than a common cold. To locals it's something you get, take an antibiotic for, and move on from with no serious symptoms other than a rash or a fever.

It will be a great thing for the Lyme community to have a reference to a major show like Dr. Phil. As far as I know, it's one of the only national shows that has given direct coverage to chronic Lyme.