White Mountain Community Health - Affordable Health Care, Conway NH
Open Monday through Friday
8:30am to 4:00pm
(603) 447-8900

The Latest

Sep 29, 2017

Employee Spotlight - Linda DiBrandi's battle with Lyme disease

With the rise in the number of ticks throughout Maine and New Hampshire in the past few years, it is crucial that we understand how to protect ourselves from tick-borne diseases. As part of White Mountain Community Health Center’s series on our employees’ health successes, Ashley Kerr sat down with dental hygienist Linda DiBrandi to talk about her battle with Lyme disease, and how she isn’t backing down from the fight.

How did you get Lyme disease?
I am not sure, to be honest. I never saw a bull’s eye (a round circular rash expanding often times from the location of a tick bite). Most of my spare time was spent in the woods on my mountain bike, so I’ve always assumed that was where I contracted Lyme.
What is Lyme disease? What does it do to your body?
Lyme disease is an acute inflammatory disease that is transmitted from a deer tick or black-legged tick. The ominous bacteria carried by ticks are spirochaetes which are stealth-like in their destructive capabilities.
Signs and symptoms can vary in each individual. Common symptoms are usually similar to flu – joint pain, fever, muscular pain, fatigue, brain fog, and vertigo, and even depression. I struggle as many others do with chronic Lyme, in which the stealth-like bacteria hide and protect themselves, while invading our warrior white blood cells, tricking them into weakening the immune system causing even more dysfunction.
How did it change your life?
Lyme is a constant struggle, not just in my life, but in the lives of my family and closest friends. I cannot enjoy the hobbies that used to be a daily part of my life – from mountain bike competitions, triathlons, and competitive road-running races. For now, my sport is yoga. My daily function was greatly affected by memory dysfunction, brain fog and severe vertigo, causing me to have to slow down with everything, from a single movement to developing sentences before I even say them. I never once have given up on the idea that the old Linda I used to know will return. Lyme is a fight I am determined to win.
What do you do for treatment?
My Lyme treatment has consisted of many different modalities, such as antibiotics intravenously (IV), intramuscularly (IM) and orally; antimicrobial tinctures; and immune support with IV vitamins and minerals. I recently made some decisions in my Lyme treatment to discontinue any antibiotic therapy due to my depleted immune system. I believe we will be seeing a shift in Lyme treatment using antibiotics only for acute onset of Lyme, while chronic Lyme is like playing Battleship with advance stealth microbes.
Do you follow a special diet or exercise regime?
Diet is a very important part of treatment, as Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease, so reducing environmental and diet toxins are integral. I follow the Lyme diet, which essentially is free of gluten, dairy, sugars, and soy, and I consume meats that are organic and grass-fed. I currently support my body with Dr. Bill Rawl’s vital plan – a naturopathic copulations of herbs that are naturally antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory.
Exercise is crucial to the chronic Lyme patient. Keeping muscles strong and lubricating your joints is important. Yoga has been an extremely beneficial part of my treatment, as it clears the mind (which helps with constant brain fog and vertigo). Often times, I force myself to exercise with burning joints and a spinning head, shedding a few silent tears, knowing that I’m giving 100% to this Lyme fight.
Are you a member of any Lyme support groups? If so, do you find them to be helpful?
Reading about Lyme has always laden me with anxiety. However, I now embrace the Lyme community connection I have, whether it is a support group on Facebook or a neighbor suffering with Lyme. Connecting and sharing in a positive environment is like Lyme therapy.  
What advice would you give to others about protecting themselves from Lyme disease?
“Protection starts in your backyard” is what Lyme professionals will tell you. Paris Farmer’s Union is equipped with protective Lyme products for your backyard and body. I encourage people to educate themselves on how to protect themselves and their family and pets. Be smart. Check your body after any possible tick exposure. Shower and throw articles of clothing in the dryer for 45 minutes on high, which will kill any ticks on your clothing.
What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed with Lyme?
Lyme can vary symptomatically in each individual depending on the tick that transmitted the disease and how it was removed (always save the tick in a plastic bag for testing), or whether the individual has been having flu-like symptoms for weeks or months. In either case, medical attention is absolutely imperative. Please feel free to contact me via email at linda6174og@gmail.com for support. Live. Love. Lyme.
Picture: LindaD2.jpg