In 1951 at Fort Detrick, Maryland, construction crews built a hollow metal sphere four stories high. Inside germ weapons were to be exploded, creating mists of infectious aerosols for testing on animals....and people. Employees called it the eight ball.
In the summer of 2006 my sister Lori was afflicted with an illness that, ten months later, has yet to be definitively diagnosed. Less than one year ago she had full function of her body, regularly riding bicycles, swimming and gardening with her son Jackson. One day, while helping Jackson onto his bicycle her leg gave way beneath her and she collapsed. Although it felt no different it just wouldn’t respond.
She quickly sought treatment for what she thought was simply a pinched nerve. However, after seeing a specialist she was told that due to the quickly lost muscle function Guilian Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease, could be the culprit. She was started on a rigorous and extremely expensive course of intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, which boosts antibodies to help the good guys fight the bad guys. But why after a month of treatments, when improvements should be seen in a few weeks, was Lori not getting better but getting worse?
Countless hours and myriad visits to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and other traditional and homeopathic specialists only fueled confusion and frustration. Lori soon lost function in her other leg and motion in her hands deteriorated. Finally, after months of testing, poking, scraping, and analyzing, the diagnoses began arriving. They seemed forced and without tangible evidence, some symptoms conflicting with others: Guilian Barre Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Lyme disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, then Lyme disease again, Lou Gehrig’s disease again. Once being told by her neurologist that “Everyone dies”.
During one visit to the doctor’s we crossed paths with a friend who had recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. What were the odds that two people who knew each other would contract similar disease in such a short time? we began to dig a little deeper. Lori realized that she knew of five people in her neighborhood that had been diagnosed with MS, ALS, fibromyalgia or a similar degenerative disease. This could not be a coincidence.
Two diagnoses took rein: Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS, incurable and fatal, and Lyme disease, an easily treatable and often durable ailment.
At the time my knowledge of Lyme was the same as others --What’s Lyme? A disease -- How do you get it? Ticks – What does it do? Makes you sick. Right? – Well, Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose with its vague flu-like symptoms. However, when Lori described a bite she had that was surrounded with Lyme’s trademark round red rash, commonly called a “bulls-eye”, why didn’t doctors start her on a routine regimen of antibiotics? If untreated Lyme’s can cause debilitating arthritis and joint swelling, meningitis, blindness, fatigue, droopy eyes and other serious conditions. Why wouldn’t doctors prescribe the harmless antibiotics?
We were all very scared at what was happening to Lori and we had discovered, but even more frightening was the possibility that this was something that could have been prevented.... or worse that it was intentional in the name science and National Security... I had questions... many questions. And I'd be damned if they went unanswered.
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