February 6, 1930 - November 9, 1999
Shirley Forsman was mis-diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease for 9 years before she died of Lyme disease in Pine County, Minnesota.
Many thanks to Lyme Alliance for allowing this excerpt-written by Tom Grier, from their newsletter:
"Shirley Forsman, RN, had a history of Lyme disease at age 59 and was treated with two weeks of Doxycycline. It was about two years later that Shirley was diagnosed with early progressive Alzheimer's disorder and her health steadily and quite rapidly declined. Within a few short years, Shirley needed complete around the clock care that was provided by her daughter, Katie Harp. Shirley was no longer able to walk, talk or perform daily functions such as dressing, having conversations or controlling her bodily functions.
"Always suspecting that her mother's mutli-system problems were caused by unresolved Lyme disease, Katie fought for years to have her tested and treated. Her requests were always met with resistance until she found a young Bemidji internist who was willing to do a trial of IV Rocephin just to see if the patient responded. Amazingly, the patient responded favorably and almost immediately.
After having been nearly completely non-responsive to any outside stimuli for over two years, Shirley was now beginning to recognize family members. She could form sentences that were a few words long and was now standing and walking short distances. In fact, the physician was now recommending physical therapy and a walker.
The most dramatic change was perhaps the change in the frequency and severity of Shirley's seizures. Grand mal seizures could be expected almost every week and they were often violent enough to throw her out of bed. The nightly thrashing and lashing about in her bed came to an abrupt stop shortly after antibiotics were introduced. In the end, Shirley was going as long as two months without any major seizures or bed thrashing. Her muscle twitches in her face were completely gone.
Upon seeing this change in Shirley's health, the attending doctor changed the diagnosis from Alzheimer's to neurological Lyme disease. However, shortly after switching Shirley from her IV Rocephin to a combination of orals, her health began to decline. After a series of seizures, Shirley died at age 69."
Her death certificate lists Cause of Death as: seizure disorder as a complication of Lyme disease.