After a trip to a wooded area of the East Coast in 2011, Alicia (Ali) White started experiencing scary irregular changes: she felt out like she was outside her own body. Her hand and foot motor skills were compromised.
In the months that followed, she described physical pain that would acutely stagnate in an area of her body before moving to another area. Her throat would swell after nearly every meal, no matter what she consumed. She had dementia-like episodes, nerve-popping in her legs, debilitating fatigue, and dark circles under her eyes (and her eyes had a glassy appearance).
Bloodwork was not showing any signs of abnormality, but clearly: something was not right.
Six years later, in 2017 — after seeing numerous doctors and specialists throughout — an oncologist ordered a very specific test, which tested positive for bacteria and finally supplied White with a diagnosis of Lyme, a chronic disease that is caused by an infection by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria from a tick bite.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease each year. However, many cases (like White’s) go unreported for an elongated period of time.
As a child, White had Mono. As a teen, she had shingles. Later, she had Cytomegalovirus. After Lyme disease, she developed EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) and her health declined rapidly by holding on to these viruses in a chronic manner. “The genetic terrain in my body for developing chronic conditions was ripe for all of the above,” she said.
Although it’s been a long journey, thankfully, Ali has been in remission for 2.5 years. About a year and a half ago, she began building a platform called The Tick Chicks, which includes a podcast (with 25 episodes and counting), a blog, social media platforms, and resources to inform and educate others about Lyme.
Her experiences have changed her perspective and certainly her mission.
“Now that I’m in remission, I live my day very much like everyone else with the exception of many daily supplements, regulating my energy, and being mindful of pacing myself,” says White. “I do preventative treatments through my Integrative medicine MD, and above all, I stay positive and watch my complaining. I am grateful for the inner strength that I have found through this journey. I’ve become skilled at not sweating the small stuff and making friends with my inner badass!”
In addition to serving as an inspiration to so many in the Lyme community (and beyond), White has connected (and continues to connect) on a personal level with those who have been affected by the disease.
“If anyone out there is struggling with unexplained symptoms, please reach out to me or explore my website about how to access the experts,” says White. “Help is out there and healed people heal people. You are not alone.”
“When loving the great outdoors, prevention is your best bet against Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Pull long hair up, spray your body well with tick repellent, wear white if possible, tuck pants into socks, throw clothes in a hot dryer afterward, and spray all camping, hiking, or hunting equipment with a Permethrin product (found at TheTickChicks.com) which will last for 6 washings.”
“If you are bitten by a tick, carefully remove it with tweezers and send the tick in for testing at Igenex Labs. It’s important to start doxycycline treatment even before your bloodwork is returned as that can take a couple of weeks. For complete testing, Igenex Labs offers many tests and they can recommend an appropriate test for the type of tick you have. Many pathogens (some worse than Lyme disease) are spread by different types of ticks so treatment and symptoms will vary.”
By William Rawls
Unlocking Lyme: Myths, Truths, and Practical Solutions for Chronic Lyme Disease Book