Dr. Neil Spector, MD, one of the country’s top oncologists and a cancer researcher at Duke University School of Medicine, describes his painful near-death experience with Lyme disease in the recently published memoir Gone in A Heartbeat: A Physician’s Search for True Healing (2015). He speaks with candor and a unique perspective as a medical professional struggling to be heard by his own doctors. Uncertain when he was infected, Dr. Spector first began having health issues, including arrhythmia and arthritis pain, in the early 1990s, but despite being native to a highly endemic area for Lyme, it took many more years to have a positive diagnosis for the disease. The diagnosis was confirmed in 1997 and Dr. Spector received three months of intravenous antibiotics but was left with a severely weakened heart. It took almost 12 more years until he received a life-saving heart transplant for Dr. Spector to begin restoring his health and the damage done to his body by the parasite.
You can find Dr. Spector’s book, Gone in a Heartbeat here. In this July 2015 interview with Diane Rehm (and Bay Area Lyme Foundation researcher Dr. John Aucott) on The Diane Rehm Show, he explains his motives for writing the book:
“I wanted to write my book, one, because I realized that there were other people out there who are suffering, and there’s a lot more that we don’t know than we know about this disease and that there are people who don’t fit the classic mold of a bull’s-eye rash and a tick bite and that I’m an example of somebody who is a physician scientist who was dismissed as being stressed when in fact I had a serious, life-threatening infection that almost took my life.”
Listen here for the full discussion with Drs. Aucott, Spector, Sunil Sood (Southside Hospital North Shore LI Pediatrics), and Paul Roepe (co-director for the Center for Infectious Disease at Georgetown University).