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Going five years without diagnosis and treatment, Zdena McNamar has finally found some solace in her battle with Lyme disease through herbal treatment and social connection.

“From what I’ve gone through, I have become a more caring person, more compassionate, empathetic and appreciative of what I have today,” she said.

64-year-old Zdena McNamar was born in the Czech Republic and moved to Canada later in her life to start a family. PHOTO: TAMMIE SAMUEL

After getting bit by a tick near Lake Louise in 2015, a doctor at a Calgary walk-in clinic refused to see her, leaving her to find her own means to remove the parasite.

Over the years, her energy levels drastically decreased, making her severely tired all the time. She also faced what she called inexplicable headaches, nausea, brain fog, and rashes throughout her body. But the list goes on; McNamar experienced constant chills, muscle weakness and tingling throughout the body. 

“You think you’re going insane,” she said.

McNamar took herself from hospital to hospital, taking health assessments with different doctors, but none could tell her what was happening to her. She was told that nothing was wrong with her and that it was all in her head. 

According to the Calgary Journal, it’s common for Albertans to face difficulty getting treatment and diagnosis for Lyme disease, and easy for those with bizarre medleys of symptoms to be written off as having anxiety. 

The list of symptoms for Lyme Disease is not brief. McNamar and patients before her have said that doctors don’t have the training to recognize Lyme Disease when assessing a combination of these symptoms. Data from the Government of Canada. GRAPHIC BY TAMMIE SAMUEL.

But McNamar was determined to get better. When one friend who was helping research her condition found information on Lyme disease, McNamar sent a blood sample to a clinical lab in the United States, and a saliva sample to one in Germany. 

She was finally screened and properly diagnosed for Lyme disease in April of 2020. The Mayo clinic says antibiotics are the only proven treatment for Lyme disease, but that many people experience symptoms after treatment.

McNamar started her journey seeking treatment for her collection of symptoms, and landed with an herbalist from Toronto named Donna Wood. 

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With a prescribed medley of 12 herbs and tinctures to take daily, McNamar’s condition has improved, but her symptoms aren’t completely gone. When she starts to feel ill, she turns to friendship to help her feel better.

“I find when I’m around people, it helps with my mood. I love dealing with people.”

Which is exactly what her job as a retail sales associate helps her do. With the hundreds of customers that come through her department store weekly, she gets to connect with old and new people alike. 

“The reason why I’m leading a normal life is because I’m taking a whole bunch of herbs and tinctures. I cook, I clean and I have a part time job. I’m happy,” she said.

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