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Lyme Disease
Tuesday June 19, 2001

You wouldn't know it, but 29-year-old Brooke Landau's days are filled with chronic pain, powerful pills and an uncertain future. It all began one frightening morning five years ago.

She says, “I went to bed fine and woke up unable to walk and paralyzed from the neck up.”

Landau thought she might have Lyme Disease, but dozens of blood tests and painful spinal taps all came up negative. Doctors told her it was all in her head. But Brooke's medical nightmare was anything but imaginary. She says, “Every night I was writing in bed and in so much pain.”

A new DNA test reveled the truth. She does have chronic Lyme Disease. Dr. Andrea Gaito, president of the International Lyme & Associated Disease Society, says many people with Lyme Disease, especially women, are misdiagnosed.

She says, “Women who have Lyme Disease are often told their problems are due to PMS or hormonal problems, menopause.”

Lyme Disease is most commonly found in the northeast and northwest where deer roam. A simple trip to a woodsy area and you could leave with a tick whose biting bacteria can make you seriously sick.

The most common symptoms would be joint pain, headaches memory loss and fatigue. The most telltale sign is a bulls-eye rash, but a lot of victims don't develop the mark. Antibiotics usually clear it up, but for some like Brooke the disease lingers on. Still, she says living with the pain is easier than dealing with the doubts.

She says, “I got lucky because I found a doctor that cared about me.”

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