A reader wrote us a concerning email a little while ago insisting that she has “parasitical worms,” even though doctors have told her she is actually suffering from a delusional infestation, and that she should see a psychiatrist. Over the last four years, the reader has been on a quest to discover what is afflicting her, and she recently concluded she has “Lyme Disease and microfilaria worms.” The reader has taken some rather extreme measures to address her condition. She has sprayed everything in her house, including herself, with “Ortho home defense bug killer,” and “10 UV light air purifiers and two large IQ Air Hepa air purifiers” are at work in her house. Despite these measures (although we hesitate to use the word “despite” in this instance), the reader can’t seem to improve her condition, and thus she asked for our help.
As non-medical professionals, we can offer nothing resembling medical advice to our reader, and we would urge her to follow the advice doctors have given to her. We are in no position to say whether our reader is suffering from a delusion, but if the doctors recommend she visit a psychiatrist, she should visit a psychiatrist. In their professional medical opinion, this is the best course of action, and therefore this is the best course of action, or in any case a non-medical professional has no authority to say otherwise.
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We especially urge our reader to seek medical help because we can make little sense of either her self-diagnosis or course of “treatment.” Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, and as far as we know this condition has no connection whatsoever to microfilaria (i.e., parasitic nematodes in the early stages of development). We found one extremely sketchy website (which we will not link to on moral grounds) positing a connection between Lyme disease and microfilaria, but the very nature of this site, and the so-called remedy it recommends, weakens the link between the two rather than strengthens it. We also can see no sound reason to (and many good reasons not to) cover oneself and one’s house with insecticide, especially not in response to a parasitical inflection. As for the prodigious use of air purifiers, this presumably isn’t dangerous, but it escapes our understanding how this would help with a worm infection or Lyme disease, real or imagined.
It is important to note that even if the reader’s symptoms are psychosomatic, this does not make them any less real for her. She is experiencing what she is experiencing, and she is the object of our compassion, not our derision. And if her symptoms do have a basis in the physical, then it seems to us that by going for the evaluation with the psychiatrist, she will be able to rule out the psychosomatic, and go back to her doctor, having followed his direction and proven it unfounded. On the other hand, if her condition does have an emotional or mental component, then she needs the appropriate treatment. We will therefore insist once again that our reader seek medical attention, and follow the advice that they give.
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