Meet Jason Lipsett, Lyme Research Alliance Person of the Month
Three and a half years ago, at the start of his freshman year, Jason Lipsett of Needham, Massachusetts was like any other new college student – busy, bright-eyed, and looking forward to all the new experiences that lay ahead. But around that same time, he started suffering from strange symptoms. Making sense of these symptoms would lead him down a long, painful and confusing road that would ultimately end with a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Jason didn’t recall being bitten by a tick, but his surroundings and activities during the summer prior to his freshman year certainly provided him with enough opportunities. His hometown of Needham and his family’s vacation home on Cape Cod are both located in prime Lyme-endemic areas. Also in the summer of 2009 he had gone hiking in New Hampshire, spent a lot of time playing tennis and running outdoors, and had a dog that had recently been treated for Lyme disease.
Finally, this past November, Jason, now 21, was diagnosed with Lyme after suffering three years with symptoms that mimicked TMJ and Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Treatments for these symptoms were ineffective. In fact, they left him feeling worse, and as time went on, he began to suffer from migraines, major fatigue, muscle pain and tightness throughout his body, gastrointestinal problems, and insomnia. He had to give up his spot on the Bentley University Men’s Tennis Team and eventually was forced to take a medical leave from the university in Waltham Mass., where he was a senior. Depressed about his health, he began seeing a therapist who knew about the symptoms of Lyme and referred him to another physician. That doctor determined he had Lyme—and babesiosis-- a tick-borne co-infection.
Now in April, 2012 Jason has been on an antibiotic regimen for four months. He initially had a severe Herxheimer reaction (a worsening of symptoms brought on by the dumping of toxins into the bloodstream by dying bacteria). He says he has felt a little better each month and that he is prepared to stay on the antibiotics until he and his doctor are confident the disease is under control. “I’m fortunate to have found a Lyme-literate doctor because I know many people are not getting diagnosed and don’t receive the treatment they need to get better. I’ve learned that it’s important to educate yourself, be your own best advocate, and have a strong support system around you.”
Although Jason is not well enough to compete in the April 29th 5k Race Against Lyme, he and his family are participating as fundraisers and will be at Cove Island Park to support the runners. “While I’m not ready to compete this year in the Race Against Lyme, I am grateful that I feel well enough to be there to support the other runners and raise awareness and money for this very important cause. I look forward to running next year when I’m back to my old self!”