This is a sad tale – we all have them, but this one in addition to being another sad Lyme story made me sad as an American, to think that visitors are coming here for vacation and leaving with life-altering diseases. The last time I checked, we were not considered a “third world country”, in fact, the last time I checked we were proud of the quality of the medical services available here. I have always been fiercely proud to be an American, but this story offers a new perspective to the potential tourist.
Here is the story in David’s own words.
My name is David Ostrovsky, I am 29 years old and I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I have so much to tell, but I don’t want to make it too long, (I said that I perhaps sounded a bit repetitive,) it’s because I can’t assume that each post is being read and remembered, so maybe I repeat a few things, something like “I’m going to have an operation and from then on I‘m going to get intravenous antibiotics every day”, please ask me anything you want to know or that is not clear, so I can write it here (in the blog.)
Many ask me what is my current physical situation, ugly part, in short:
- I can’t hear from my right ear
- I don’t walk well/walk slowly, and I have to user a walker if the floor is irregular
- I have difficulty/slowness when using my hands
- I speak slowly
- A lot of hair is falling off, which wouldn’t be bad if I didn’t love my ridiculous “afro” (NOTE: On David’s Blog there are many pictures and videos showing the progression from before his illness through his treatments, right up to this week. Visit his site to read more and or to donate to his treatment costs.)
I’m asked how all this happened, I tell it; give it 5 more minutes, please, I included photos and videos so it wouldn’t be so dull:
One. 2008 was a great year, incredible, amazing, unique: I was happy, I was about to get my degree, I had an amazing job, I traveled, traveled and traveled, and I was completely in love.
So in August 2008 I traveled to New Jersey, United States.
As I love playing sports. I took advantage of the opportunity to go running outdoors in Livingston, New Jersey (I give the names of the places because many people ask me), an area with lots of vegetation, many trees, woods and lots of animals, deer mainly – I love animals, I was extremely happy and was constantly near them.
Now it sounds easy, but at that time I had no idea of the mistake I was making, no one, nothing, no sign warned about it unfortunately (all the pictures that follow in the blog were taken by me while I was there.)
After 1 week of being in the United States I started having health problems similar to those of a flu: I slept an awful lot, I was tired, headaches, etc.
I returned to Buenos Aires and the symptoms continued, I consulted many doctors, took tests, but all the tests were normal, there was no apparent reason for my unwell state.
So I tried to go on with my life in the best possible way: I worked, I went to the gym, I gave my last exams, and traveled, traveled, and traveled As I always say I don’t consider travel an expenditure but an investment, the best investment in life, every trip is unique and unrepeatable.
Upon reading this or hearing about this, many ask me: why didn’t you stop? I swear that, inside, I was going through hell, but I didn’t know what to do, nor whom to go to anymore. I was told “it is all in your head”, that it was a psychiatric disorder, because of which I needed medication: antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
(The last photographs seen here, I took days, d a y s, less than a week before ending up being hospitalized, almost unable to talk nor walk)
So I carried on, with these symptoms, until in March 2009 my body wouldn’t take it anymore, simply couldn’t take it anymore, and I ended up being hospitalized, starting to talk every day a bit slower, and moving my hand and legs every day a bit slower and less coordinately.
Upon reaching that point I was told I suffered a “General anxiety disorder”, a confirmed, psychiatric disorder – I still have the certificate, someday we’ll frame it or, better yet, use it to light a fire and have something to eat.
Luckily this option was discarded, and I was hospitalized at the FLENI (the most important institute specializing in neurology in all Latin America) for over a month, doctors from all over the world came to see me (all over: Mayo Clinic USA, Germany, Spain), they did all kinds of tests on me for a month, and yet day after day I got worse. I talked slower and walked worse and worse. It looked like I was going to end up with paralysis, and the doctors didn’t know what I had or how to stop it; it was a dire, desperate situation.
Finally I was sent home, when I was practically unable to walk nor talk, and they told me I had suffered an “autoimmune process, product of a post-infectious state”, meaning I had had an infection, can’t say which, my defenses eliminated it, and continued to attack me by mistake.
End of chapter one, I had to go through rehabilitation and take corticosteroids to decrease my immune system and keep my body from attacking itself once more.
Two. But time passed and I wasn’t getting better, I was going to rehabilitation and not getting any better, in fact I was getting worse! I end up being unable to continue walking by my own means and I started using a walker.
Something was not making sense, so, on my own, I read, did research, sat down to think about my symptoms, etc. , couldn’t it be something else? What could it be?
Yes, on my own: I am not a doctor, it sounds like a science fiction movie, but unfortunately it isn’t a movie, it’s real, so I found these illnesses: Lyme and coinfections, the symptoms of which, everything, was very similar to my case.
And I decided which tests I was going to take, where I could take them (I had the tests done by the Igenex lab. In California, United States) and finally in September 2009 I found out I had:
The infectious diseases: Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia and Erlichia.
Finally a diagnosis!
Three. And even with a diagnosis, it wasn’t going to be easy, not easy at all. In November 2009 against my own will (unbelievable right?) and with these results that pointed out active infections: I was once again administrated immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory treatment: corticoids and intravenous immunoglobulins.
I tried everything I could to stop this treatment, I asked not to have it, I asked them to stop it, but it was in vain, in spite of the vomits, the fever, headaches, etc. that I suffered due to and during this treatment… in spite of all the evidence that indicated that this therapy was harmful, it was continued.
I was hospitalized in ER, which allowed the infections to spread even further. As a consequence, since then and to this day, I suffer from tinnitus (constant ringing) and Hypoacusis (hearing loss) both in my right ear.
Not surprisingly, the same side of my body the disease has affected the most.
Unbelievable, frustrating, inhuman, unfair and a thousand other adjectives.
Four. No, unfortunately the story doesn’t end there, the treatment for such an advanced case of Lyme and co-infections is long and complicated, really long.
On several occasions I was indicated treatment to beat these bacteria and get my life back: I started talking faster, walking better, my hearing got better, etc.
Imagine the thrill, the happiness, the enthusiasm I felt.
Now imagine that for no apparent reason, neither clinic, nor physical, no lab result, nothing, I was taken off those treatments, in 5 occasions now, with terrible consequences.
Every time the treatment is interrupted, the bacteria turn more resistant, every time the treatment is suspended I start speaking progressively slower, walking worse, my hair falls down, a thousand things… all that horror once again, and unable to do anything at all to stop it, only beg that they won’t interrupt the treatment, explaining the medical reasons but unfortunately with no success.
How much more do I have to do? Find a diagnosis, request they don’t damage my health further with the wrong treatments, beg them not to interrupt the right treatment, investigate, find economic aid to pay for the treatment…
I found out a movie was made, “Under Our Skin”, about how complicated this disease is.
There you see worse cases than mine, with problems affecting the voice, in wheel chairs… people who have completely recovered! I am in touch with several of them and in some cases the treatment has lasted more than 6 years, six years.
And more, I started reading, buying myself medicine books, I started to understand the complexity of these diseases, their treatment, rehabilitation, etc.
Why not me? Then I decided to create this site, because I don’t want anyone, absolutely anyone to go through the hell I have gone and am going through.
And mainly, to tell my story and find help, people who after reading this will want to help me to get my life back, because I admit it, confess it, the human being is selfish… I want my life back, I want to speak again, to hear, to smile, to travel, to play the guitar, to go snowboarding, to go jogging, to work, to… to…to… thousands of more examples.
There is very long the list of people who have said horrible things to me, damaged my health and even abandoned me, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to dedicate even a second to them.
I’m sure somewhere there are: doctors who want to investigate, read and help me to get my life back. Friends who want to be by my side and help me during this “journey”.
And I already met several: Ana, Guillermo, Mariana x2, Florencia, Fede, Alicia x3, Gonzalo, Ioná, Micaela, Laura, and many, many more… for example these amazing guys: please take a look at this video video made by the kids from the Talpiot school from Buenos Aires (In Spanish):
Currently I’m not hospitalized at any clinic (many people ask me). And I don’t stop fighting for a minute, and I’m not planning to until I completely get my life back:
I read medical books, investigate, go to doctors appointments, go to rehab, I started to work again! (since May-2011), and I’m… sort of (I don’t like to count the chickens before they hatch) on a road to recovery, and I am no longer alone on this road, these amazing guys, friends, “lymies”, that I wrote about before, are by my side, they help me and I know that they won’t stop until they see me happy and 100% better.
Since I launched this site the response from people around the world has been simply amazing: emails, letters, donations, etc… and it helps me to continue.
If you want/can join me on this journey to get my life back, I will be more than grateful.
Thanks!… have you read this far? thanks, thanks and thanks!
David’s Blog is located at http://www.helpsavedavid.com/ and shows his optimism through so many different treatments from IV antibiotics to hyperbaric oxygen treatments…as time passed, David refused to give up hope and traveled to many specialists as well as educating himself in as many ways as he could.
He is off his walker, and working with a doctor who has him in a very methodical physical rehabilitation program which includes tennis!
He is feeling much better than he did, and is finally able to live on his own and take care of himself as of February 2012.
But now, more than ever, David will need support, both emotional and financial to continue to recover. So please reach out to our friend in Argentina with greetings and encouragement at the very least.
If you ever feel isolated or alone, just imagine how hard it must be in an area that has so few incidence of the disease Hmm…nice weather…maybe we should all move down and start a Lyme Rehabilitation Colony!!