Letter: Studying up on Lyme disease

I want to thank the Rappahannock News and Megan Smith for the excellent article on Lyme disease that appeared on the front page of the paper a couple weeks ago — and especially her first-person account of the challenge of having the disease properly diagnosed and treated. As someone who has only recently moved to Rappahannock County, it was good to be reminded of the growing incidence of Lyme disease in Virginia and the need to be aware of its consequences.

As Smith’s story unfortunately makes clear, not all doctors are up to speed when it comes to diagnosing and treating tick-borne diseases. Some, however, have been forced to deal with the reality of this kind of debilitating disease as a result of personal experience. Dr. Kathy Spreen, who lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, is one of the growing number of family practitioners who have devoted themselves to researching Lyme disease.

In 2007, as her 20-year-old son was battling a fever of 106 and lapsed in and out of consciousness, she felt utterly lost as there was nothing traditional medicine could do for her child. Her unwillingness to stand by and watch him suffer led to an important new resource for anyone confronting the disease: “Compendium of Tick-Borne Disease: A Thousand Pearls.”

As Dr. Spreen explained, “I wrote the book I wish I’d had when my son got sick.” The product of more than four years of research, the 832-page reference book is written in an accessible, conversational style intended to help non-professionally trained people make their way through the daunting experience of the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

Spreen’s book, which is available from Amazon, can also be ordered from Pocopson Publishing (tickpearls@gmail.com).

I’ve previewed the book, and decided to order two copies — one to have on hand as a personal reference, and one to give to the Rappahannock County Library. I hope as more people become better informed about this fast-spreading disease — doctors included — fewer people will have to go through the kind of prolonged suffering described by Ms. Smith and experienced by Dr. Spreen’s son.

Gary Aichele

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