T he relationship between Alyssa Goodale and the women treating her for Lyme disease ended abruptly in February 2010.
It had not been inexpensive, costing Alyssa's parents more than $10,000 out of pocket over a four-month stretch on "energy machine" sessions and vitamin and nutritional supplements, not to mention a pile of prescription drugs that were supposed to help her heal.
But money and a quirky treatment protocol are not why, more than a year later, 19-year-old Alyssa remains embittered and a little confused.
New Times cover story
"They would have killed me if I hadn't stopped going to them," she says in a matter-of-fact way that belies an anger that runs deep.
She is speaking of Dana Rosdahl and Janet Love, co-owners of Chandler's Remnant Health Center.
Rosdahl is a family nurse practitioner and former Arizona State University professor. She prefers to be called "Dr. Dana," a title she employs because of her advanced degree in nursing.
Arizona is one of six states that allow nurse practitioners to prescribe and dispense medication and to give diagnoses without a doctor's supervision.
That is what Rosdahl was doing for Alyssa Goodale and continues to do for what she estimates are 225 patients. The clinic also sells patients herbal and vitamin supplements as part of its protocol.
Its motto should be: "Lyme disease is everywhere — and we mean everywhere!"
Lyme is the nation's fastest-growing infectious disease. But Love and Rosdahl (among many others) seem convinced it is far more ubiquitous than those in authority are letting on.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says symptoms of Lyme can include fever, headaches, arthritic-like aches and pains, chronic fatigue, and sometimes a small skin rash that looks like a bull's-eye.
As with a urinary tract infection or strep throat, most doctors say Lyme can be treated easily in its early stages with a few weeks of antibiotics. But if undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme disease can cause all kinds of issues, physiological and psychological.
Janet Love and Dana Rosdahl come across as sincere in their belief that doctors routinely misdiagnose the disease, leading to unnecessary pain and bad health for literally millions of people.
"We know how Lyme works, and we know how to fight it," Dana Rosdahl says. "But it's not an easy road for the patients or for us."
Therein lies the dilemma at the heart of this story, which examines the pitfalls that emerge when a clinic focuses on one diagnosis — Lyme disease, in this instance — to the exclusion of all others.
Such single-mindedness blurs critical thinking that is central to the proper care of any patient.
Naturally, that process has an acronym — WYLFIWYF, which stands for "what you look for is what you find."
Remnant Health Center looks for and finds Lyme disease.
"I believe that at least 70 percent of the population are infected [with Lyme], whether they know it or not," Love says. "I didn't, in my own case, for 15 years. We are passing infected blood directly into the blood supply. Some people think this is wacko, but it's not."
Last October, a professor who specializes in the history of infectious diseases told an audience at an Institute of Medicine seminar in Washington, D.C.: "Lyme disease is anything but a simple story."
Dr. Robert Aronowitz of the University of Pennsylvania was referring to the controversy and confusion that dominates discussion of the illness.
What happened to Alyssa Goodale at Remnant Health Clinic is a case in point.
Alyssa never did test positive for Lyme disease, despite extensive blood work and other evaluations.
But that didn't stop the clinic from continuing to treat the ailing young woman for full-blown Lyme.
That included a regimen of potent antibiotics that landed Alyssa in a Gilbert emergency room in February 2010.
"This young woman is very lucky to be alive," says Dr. David Arneson, a naturopathic physician who began treating Alyssa shortly after that hospital visit.
"She almost died of an opiate overdose from all the drugs she was on. I can't say the people at that clinic had any intent to hurt her. But they needed second or third opinions. They got none. Lyme disease is real. But some people make a grave mistake by calling everything Lyme."
Dana Rosdahl points out, accurately, that Lyme disease remains very difficult to diagnose, mainly because standard lab blood tests for it are imprecise.
The most common blood test for Lyme, called the ELISA, provides so many false-positive readings that most doctors won't use its results as a sole basis for diagnosis.
Prescribing long-term antibiotics to treat what supposedly is "chronic Lyme disease" (in itself a controversial diagnosis) is a practice most doctors see as perilous.
But Rosdahl and Love say what went awry was not their fault.
"Alyssa is a sweet little girl," Love says, "though I didn't think she would have the discipline for our program. But Dana decided to treat her out of compassion. We never hurt her."
Janet Love utilizes an array of "energy machines" that would fit on the set of a Back to the Future movie.
She keeps the desktop devices in her Remnant office and says they accomplish amazing things, including having saved her own life from a vicious bout with Lyme disease.
From Love's résumé on Remnant's website: "She is a board-certified Biofeedback Therapist . . . as well as a Licensed Quantum Biofeedback Therapist, a Reiki Master, DNA Reprogramming Therapist, Life Coach, and is proficient in Emotional Freedom Technique."
Love has her "client" relax in a black lounge chair on the other side of her desk. She connects the person to one of her devices through a head harness and ankle and wrist straps.
One device is called a QXCI, short for Quantum Xeroid Consciousness Interface. Another is a SCIO, for Scientific Consciousness Interface System. A third is the state-of-the-alleged-art INDIGO unit.
As the machines go to work, Love sits at the desk in her softly lit office looking at three large monitors.
A website that offers the INDIGO for about $25,000 says it "is sold as a full diagnostic and treatment system. After assessment of 'electrical parameters,' [it] then sends therapy signals via a harness to the body."
Next, "[it] fires low levels of current into the patient, and . . . in a method similar in theory to radar, reads the bounced signals and transfers them to a database."
"The database consists of several thousand diagnostic categories from several different medical disciplines and other mystical data, including homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, traditional medical, astrology, and prayer wells, all of which can be transmitted to the [device] for therapeutic benefit."
In Alyssa Goodale's case, the "energy devices" supposedly confirmed what Dana Rosdahl had told the girl months earlier — that parasites and pathogens were crawling around inside her.
From the sound of it, INDIGO's inventor should have won a Nobel Prize, probably more than once.
It didn't go that way for Bill Nelson, a onetime math teacher who fled to Hungary in the mid-1990s after the feds indicted him for making false claims about his devices.
Undaunted, Nelson started a multilevel marketing operation in Budapest, garnering untold millions of dollars in sales.
His business has flourished, despite the earlier indictment for selling a product that he once insisted could cure everything from headaches to cancer. These days, the "energy machines" are supposed to be billed solely as "stress relievers."
Apart from the true believers (Janet Love and Dana Rosdahl are among them), just about everyone else thinks that Nelson's inventions are fraudulent.
"It sounds like a scam — a classic snake-oil con," says Dr. Greg Loeben, associate professor of bioethics at Midwestern University in Glendale.
"I teach my students that medicine and doctors don't have all the answers, and they should be aware of that at all times. But relying on a machine that goes ping and identifies bacterial infections is way over in the fringe area, at best. The word 'improbable' comes to mind."
Loeben suggests, "This all involves the placebo effect, the power that the body has to heal itself over time, and human nature itself."
The placebo effect works like this:
Repeated studies have shown that belief alone can have a true healing effect. After getting strapped to an energy machine, a person may feel better for a while simply because they expect to.
Alyssa Goodale fit into that category.
Not surprisingly, insurance companies won't pay for "energy machine" sessions or other scientifically sketchy treatments.
Insurers also are loath to cover more than a few weeks of antibiotics at a stretch, so Remnant's long-term patients (which are most of them) have to pay for everything out of pocket.
But business has been good at Remnant since it opened in early 2010.
"I feel better than I have in 30 years since I hooked up with Dr. Dana and Jana and realized what was up," says Clovis Jones, a 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran and retired airline pilot. "They have saved my life. They know what they are doing, and they know Lyme disease."
A New Yorker cartoon in the late 1990s showed a guy chatting with a neighbor over a hedge.
"We're thinking of moving to another part of the country," he said. "Somewhere between Lyme disease and killer bees."
The cartoon hinted at the schism between Lyme-ites — who believe that a majority of Americans have the disease — and everyone else.
Some Lyme-ites cling to wispy theories of a lingering U.S. government/big-insurance-company conspiracy against the masses.
They consider Lyme as an evildoer of monumental magnitude, and that the "medical establishment," which includes the insurance industry and the U.S. government, intentionally has misled the American public as to its prevalence.
Lyme disease was named after the wooded Connecticut town where children complained in the early 1970s of arthritis-like pain in their joints.
Medical experts believe that the bacterial infection is transmitted to humans through the bite of a tiny deer tick, about the size of a poppy seed.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Infectious Disease Society of America contend that, if properly diagnosed, early-stage Lyme disease is easily treatable with a course of up to one month of antibiotics.
Still, says Dr. Benjamin Luft, an infectious-diseases physician at Stony Brook State University of New York, "We don't have a universal understanding of what the disease is. We don't know what we're talking about."
What complicates matters is that so many people continue to complain about recurring Lyme symptoms long after supposedly being cured.
The National Institutes of Health hasn't helped, writing on its website, "While most patients improve after taking antibiotics, some patients continue to have symptoms. It is currently unknown why."
About 31,000 Americans officially were diagnosed with Lyme disease last year (with another 10,000 "probable" cases listed). The vast majority of the victims reside in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions.
CDC statistics show that Arizonans accounted for only three confirmed cases of Lyme in 2009, with four other people listed as "probable."
That many go to Remnant Health Center for "Lyme disease" treatment just about every day.
An epidemiologist tells New Times that Lyme disease is rare in Arizona because the culprit tick cannot survive long in low-humidity regions.
"We don't have the ticks here," says Craig Levy, program manager for the state health department's Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Disease Program.
"If we could support them, they would have been here a long time ago. But people are desperate to figure out what's making them sick, and they grab onto a Lyme diagnosis whether it's right or not."
Some Lyme-ites, including those at Remnant, suggest that the disease also can be transmitted in utero or by sexual contact.
Janet Love is adamant that she contracted Lyme disease genetically from her parents, natives of Missouri and Texas. She also says she's sure that she transmitted it to her son Garrett (who is Remnant's office manager).
Alyssa Goodale's mother, Lynn, says both Love and Dana Rosdahl informed her that all six Goodale children contracted Lyme genetically.
"When Dana first told me that Lyme was passed along in families, it rocked my world, to say the least," Lynn Goodale says.
The notion of entire families infected with the Lyme bacteria elicits a one-word comment from Dr. Randy Horwitz, medical director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine:
Founded by famed alternative healing MD Andrew Weil, the Tucson clinic hardly is a member of the mainstream-medicine industry that Lyme-ites are quick to condemn.
Dr. Horwitz adds, "To take a disease and to extrapolate and say that everyone is infected — that based on alleged clinical symptoms, this is Lyme, even in the absence of data — makes no sense to me."
He adds a cautionary note relevant to Alyssa Goodale's case:
"In the absence of a clear diagnosis, you shouldn't just assign something based on your own theories or probabilities and promulgate a myth. That's when you take a step that's beyond what we do."
A recent paper by the American Lyme Disease Foundation concluded, "There is no epidemiological or clinical data to support the sexual transmission of Lyme disease."
The CDC goes further, saying there is "no evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted from person to person."
The agency does note that a pregnant woman infected with Lyme may pass it along to the embryo through the placenta — "However, no effects on the fetus have been found when the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment."
As for the allegedly infected blood supply, the CDC says, "No cases of Lyme disease have been linked to blood transfusion."
Alyssa Goodale says she'd never heard of Lyme disease before her first appointment with Dana Rosdahl on June 11, 2009.
She says her mother took her to see Rosdahl, whom Lynn Goodale had known for years, because of issues with her menstrual cycle.
Rosdahl was working as a nurse practitioner at the Gilbert offices of an internal specialist and had just quit her teaching job at ASU's College of Nursing. She and Janet Love still were several months from opening Remnant Health Center.
Alyssa is the second youngest of Austin and Lynn Goodale's six children. She is a pleasant, pretty young woman with a quick wit and keen sense of right and wrong.
Alyssa was an athlete at Gilbert's Higley High, in soccer and track. But the Arizona native says asthma, allergies, and other physical problems long had plagued her.
"I wasn't what you call sickly," she says softly, "but I think I had more than my share of stuff going on inside of me, and I never knew what it was."
The Goodales say they met Rosdahl around 2003 at East Valley Bible Church in Gilbert.
Word got around the congregation that Rosdahl was a top-rate healthcare provider, and Lynn Goodale sought her counsel. She also treated Lynn's husband, Austin, and other family members at various times.
"She was my go-to person for issues related to being a woman and getting older," Lynn says. "She got me on a great health track, and I trusted her."
Alyssa graduated in the spring of 2009 and enrolled at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. She continued to work at a Paradise Bakery over the summer but says she was feeling exhausted, aching all over, and suffering from awful menstrual cramps.
Alyssa says Rosdahl almost immediately mentioned Lyme disease during the first appointment.
"I was, like, Lyme what?" Alyssa says. "I thought it was going to be hormones. It was scary."
Rosdahl's handwritten medical records (which Alyssa Goodale provided to New Times) show that the girl told her at that first meeting, "I feel old all over."
Alyssa says Dr. Dana promised her that she would feel much better within a year, under a rigorous protocol of antibiotics, natural supplements, and dietary and other life changes.
She also recalls that Rosdahl said she would not mention Lyme disease in her charts because it could cause problems for all concerned.
"Dana also told me not to go any other doctors," Alyssa says, "and if I had to go to an urgent-care center for some reason, not to mention Lyme — just my symptoms. She is a smart and convincing person."
Rosdahl is a bright and blunt-spoken woman who gets her points across rapidly. She met with New Times in her office at Remnant dressed in a white lab coat with her name embroidered on it.
Like many who believe they suffer from Lyme disease (negative test results be damned), Rosdahl has her own tale of misdiagnosis and misery.
She says she developed years ago what she later came to know as Lyme symptoms.
"I had thousands of dollars of tests run on me," Rosdahl says, "and they finally uncovered all kinds of parasites and infections. The experience changed my whole life and practice. The more I did on me, healing-wise, the more holistic and curious I got."
She says her quest led her to a 2006 Lyme disease conference in Seattle.
"There was something going on here — not just with me; some huge infection. I began to realize that I had to start referring patients to Lyme-literate providers. It was an overwhelming realization — Lyme is the culprit!"
Rosdahl soon embraced a new role as a Lyme-ite.
"I have a neighbor, a radiologist from Israel," Rosdahl says, "who doctors say has Lou Gehrig's disease. Well, I think it is Lyme disease. He tells me, 'Dana, you think everyone has Lyme.' I don't. But I would be doing my patients a great disservice if I didn't put it in my differential."
Though Alyssa Goodale and her parents didn't know it yet, Rosdahl and Janet Love already were planning to start their own clinic in Chandler.
The women met through a patient of Rosdahl's who told her she had to connect with "energized medicine" proponent Love. She went to Love "not as a clinician, but as a patient, because I wanted to see if she was hokey or was dealing with sound science."
Rosdahl says the session was an epiphany: "She told me things about me that no one should have known: lots of trauma that I've had, stresses, the parasites in my gut. She totally hooked me up to the SCIO [energy machine], and it was on the money. I did more tests and got on the full protocol that we have created. I'm still on it. It's been a battle, but I am very healthy now, thank God."
Things haven't gone nearly as swimmingly for Alyssa Goodale.
Her medical files show that she took a blood test shortly after her first visit with Rosdahl.
It turned up negative for Lyme disease, like all the others she would take after that.
"But Dr. Dana repeatedly told me that the tests were worthless and that she was absolutely sure it was Lyme," Alyssa says.
Alyssa was about to start her first semester of college and wondered whether she would be up to it. She wasn't feeling any better, despite the regimen of antibiotics and supplements that Rosdahl had put her on.
Alyssa and her mother recall Rosdahl's talking about an alleged government cover-up involving a certain Lab 257.
In 2004, a book titled Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory got a lot of publicity.
All of 840 acres, Plum Island sits off the northeast coast of Long Island, a federal property that once was home to U.S. Army Chemical Corps. In the early 1950s, the corps ostensibly studied animal-borne diseases that might harm the food supply.
That was the official story.
The facility earned mention in the creepy movie classic Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lector said, "'Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center.' Sounds charming."
Michael Carroll's book claimed that poor safeguards had allowed Lyme disease (among other infectious illnesses) to escape from the closed-down lab in the 1970s. He admittedly engaged in much speculation, but Lab 257 was a godsend for those who wanted answers about the disease's possible origins.
Rosdahl says she did mention Lab 257 to the Goodales "as another point of reference or view in Lyme disease."
In the fall of 2009, Alyssa says, Rosdahl mentioned Love as a "biofeedback expert" who could help put the girl's health back together.
"Dana said some Christian people — we're Christians — may have a problem with some stuff that Janet does — the New Age stuff — but it really could help me."
Janet Love was doing the same things at Love Healing Center that she does at Remnant. That included a service enabling sick clients to be "diagnosed" over a phone through a so-called "virtual treatment."
A friend sent Lynn an e-mail in late October, shortly before Alyssa first met with Janet Love.
"I would be very careful about this and ask for some references of people who have used it," the friend wrote. "One thing that stuck out to me is 'long-distance sessions available.' It seems like a hoax."
Lynn Goodale says she should have listened to her friend, but she didn't.
"My daughter was sick, and I was in kind of a panic," she says. "Bad mistake."
In November 2009, Alyssa Goodale and her parents stepped into Love Healing Center not knowing what to expect. Their first impression of Janet Love was excellent.
"Janet said some people were leery of her practice and the benefits that people get from her," Alyssa says. "She was very thorough and detailed and combed through every aspect of my life, more like a doctor. She was very put together, very impressive, and very nice."
Love's stirring account of her own long fight back to health from Lyme disease is her biggest selling point. She is a warm and engaging person who makes visitors feel welcome.
The former real estate agent says she discovered "energized medicine" about 2005 after supposed misdiagnoses by several doctors over a period of about 15 years.
"I would have died if I hadn't figured out what was wrong with me and how to deal with it," she says. "I was told that I had just about everything but what I had. I came to learn that Lyme is multiple layers of infection — a super-bug. It teams up with other pathogens in your body to mess you up. The [energy] machines saved me. I know [inventor] Bill Nelson may be a little nutty, but his machines work."
(Love may be referring to the fact that Nelson is a flamboyant cross-dresser who also goes by the name Desiré Dubounet.)
Alyssa says she spent four hours hooked up to the SCIO machine that Saturday afternoon in 2009. As she reclined in the comfortable black chair and the device did its "readings," Love asked her parents to go into another room to watch Under Our Skin, a 2009 documentary that won many good reviews.
The filmmakers billed it as "a dramatic tale of microbes, medicine, and money." It is emotionally gripping in parts, especially when people discuss how their illnesses have affected their lives.
Under Our Skin depicts a one-sided war of good versus evil, with the good being misdiagnosed Lyme disease victims and the bad being a powerful and sophisticated cabal of government public-health workers, doctors, and scientists.
Lynn Goodale became a Lyme-ite before the final credits rolled.
"As I was watching, I was thinking, 'That is what is wrong with Alyssa! That's it!' Lynn says. "I so much wanted to believe, so I did."
Alyssa says Janet Love immediately reported the machine's readings after studying them on her computer screens.
"She said it was serious, that my Lyme levels were really high, and I needed to do a lot of work," she says.
The bill that day totaled about $1,300, including about $800 for supplements available at Love's clinic and the fee for the SCIO tests.
A few months later, Janet Love and Dana Rosdahl opened their new business, Remnant Health Center, in Chandler.
Alyssa says she was feeling worse as time passed, not better. She says she sadly quit her job at the bakery because she felt so weak and then found herself homebound much of the time.
She says Rosdahl and Love reassured her that everything would be fine. They explained a process called "herxing" (named after a German dermatologist) that occurs when toxins are released into the body as bacteria during antibiotic treatment.
The bacteria die faster than the body can remove the toxins, and that leads to fever, muscle pain, skin lesions, and headaches.
"Janet said I needed to base my life on my sickness," Alyssa says. "She wanted me isolated in my room to work on myself because I was going to lose friends anyway. She said I would be stronger in the long run. I was thinking, I'm going to end up without friends, no job, and no boyfriend, lonely and alone."
The girl alternated between visits to Love and Rosdahl, always accompanied by her mother, Lynn, who now was caring for her almost around the clock.
"Sometimes I would have a couple of good hours after one of my [energy machine] treatments," Alyssa says, harkening back to Dr. Loeben's earlier comment about the placebo effect.
Just before Christmas 2009, Alyssa's parents took her to a Mesa urgent-care center after six days of diarrhea and a relentless stomachache.
Dr. Paul Dizon's medical chart that day noted that the Goodales were wondering whether their daughter needed an IV for dehydration, "as she is being presently treated for lung infection by her primary-care provider, Dr. Rosdahl."
Alyssa says the doctor phoned Rosdahl and that she and her mother overheard a heated conversation.
"They were lashing out at each other over how to treat me," she says. "He was saying that all I had was fever and some diarrhea."
Dr. Dizon noted the prescription drugs that Alyssa was taking at the time.
The list included an antibiotic usually used to treat tuberculosis, an anti-viral that attacks cold sore viruses on the skin, another antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections affecting the skin and respiratory systems, a drug to treat depression and anxiety, and Darvocet — a narcotic painkiller that was withdrawn from the U.S. market late last year.
A few days after Alyssa's urgent-care visit, Rosdahl added the sleep aid Ambien and yet another antibiotic, Bactrim, to her already intensive drug cocktail.
Among other things, Bactrim is used to treat infections of the ear and urinary tract.
But Alyssa's condition continued to deteriorate.
She continued her treatments with Love and Rosdahl, whose new, 3,500-square-foot clinic on South Dobson Road was about to open.
During a January 16 "energy treatment," Alyssa says, Love told her she was "picking up" Valley fever, staph infections, and other illnesses on the SCIO device. The Lyme bacteria were making everything worse, Love said, but things would improve with time.
That night, she says, Alyssa underwent a two-hour "virtual" session over the phone from her home with a friend of Love's from Texas named Mickey. (Love confirms that Mickey is another "energized medicine" aficionado.)
"It sounded so believable," Alyssa says. "Janet explained it was like a cell-phone wave over a line. Mickey told me to be calm and watch a movie or something. I know, dumb."
The cost to her parents for the "virtual" session was $250.
Alyssa says Love smacked a hand to her own forehead during another SCIO session a few days later.
"She looked at my mom and said, 'Oh, God! You better pray it doesn't turn into this.'"
Love explained that the device was showing that Alyssa had C. difficile, a bacteria that causes symptoms ranging from severe diarrhea to life-threatening colon inflammation.
C. diff (as it is also called) typically occurs in the intestines after the use of antibiotics, which Alyssa had been ingesting on and off for months. What basically happens is that the antibiotics kill the good bacteria in the gut, leaving the more resistant, bad C. diff bacteria to run rampant.
By then, in addition to the previously mentioned drugs, Alyssa was on Levaquin (used to "treat severe or life-threatening bacterial infections that have failed to respond to other antibiotic(s)," Flagyl (the antibiotic of choice for mild-to-moderate C. diff infections), and Fluconazole (a strong anti-fungal used to treat yeast infections).
Alyssa had signed up for two new classes at her community college but says she soon dropped them because she was feeling so sick.
On January 25, Dana Rosdahl prescribed Vancomycin, an especially potent and expensive (about $5 a pill) antibiotic of "last resort" used to treat serious infections of the intestines that cause colitis — the C. diff.
The drug usually is restricted to hospital use only, and is supposed to be taken only after a stool-test kit confirms the C. diff infection.
"I was supposed to take the stool test," Alyssa says, "but Dana didn't have a kit available. I just started taking the Vanco twice a day for seven days. By that point, I was up to about 100 pills a day for everything."
On January 31, Rosdahl prescribed a Fentanyl pain patch for Alyssa. The drug is supposed to be used "only for long-term or chronic pain requiring continuous, around-the-clock narcotic pain relief that is not helped by other less powerful pain medicines."
A few days later, Janet Love e-mailed Alyssa what she called a "prayer protocol," which included the following words:
"I ask for divine guidance (God, Jesus, etc.) in blessing me as I work through the process of healing. To watch over me and provide me with all necessary guidance to help me maneuver, release, and remove all aspects of this illness and infection."
Things were at a breaking point.
On the morning of February 5, 2010, Alyssa's body crashed.
"I didn't know where I was. I was vomiting up blood, and my parents said my eyes were rolling back in my head," she says.
Lynn Goodale contacted Dana Rosdahl, who told her to take Alyssa to an emergency room for an IV treatment.
"I asked her what we were supposed to tell them [at the hospital] because we never were supposed to mention the Lyme disease," Lynn says. "She said we could say that Alyssa had Lyme. That was a big surprise."
Alyssa's parents drove her to the Mercy Gilbert Medical Center emergency room early that afternoon.
Her medical chart shows that her chief complaint was: "I think I have an infection."
Alyssa's medical chart shows the aforementioned body aches, nausea and vomiting, sore throats, and digestive problems.
But neither she nor her parents mentioned Lyme disease to the doctors, an odd decision that Lynn Goodale tries to explain by saying, "We had been keeping it quiet for months, on Dana's instructions, and my husband just decided to keep it that way."
Alyssa says a nurse asked her what was going on with all the meds she was taking:
"She saw the list of the drugs I was on and said, 'Honey, are they trying to kill you or something?'"
The Goodales say they heard the treating physician at Gilbert Mercy, Dr. Andrea Wolff, berating Rosdahl on the phone. Rosdahl confirms that the call happened and that it was not a pleasant one.
Dr. Wolff's concerns make sense to Dr. Ted Wendel, a pharmacist who is a top administrator at A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Mesa.
"This pattern of drug usage may be seen in the very sick, where qualified infectious-disease physicians are desperately trying to save someone with multiple infections," he tells New Times.
"Even then, this approach is a 'Hail Mary.' To use seven antimicrobial agents to treat someone [allegedly] with Lyme disease can't be justified in any valid scientific literature . . . I cringe in horror when these [medicines] are misused without specific, well-recognized intent and planning. I was not surprised to learn that the woman became very ill during the course of this treatment."
A physician's assistant at Gilbert Mercy wrote in Alyssa's chart that "Dr. Wolff consulted with Dr. Rosdahl, who [it] turns out is actually a nurse practitioner, and Dr. Wolff was informed that this patient has Lyme disease and was actually sent here for IV hydration."
The hospital diagnosis was muscle pain, generalized fatigue, elevated-liver-function tests (because of all the drugs she was on) and "history of Lyme disease" — the latter even though Alyssa never had tested positive for it.
Alyssa was discharged from the hospital after several hours.
The next day, she and her parents met with Rosdahl and Love at the newly opened Remnant Health Center.
"The first thing Dana says to me is, 'You almost cost me my license!'" Alyssa recalls. "She was talking about me getting on the [Vancomycin] without doing the stool test first, and the ER doctor finding out about it. It definitely wasn't, 'Are you feeling any better?'"
Rosdahl says Alyssa's failure to follow her instructions before filling the Vancomycin prescription spelled the end between them.
"I would not provide any more care to Alyssa," Rosdahl says. "She did put my medical license at risk by not doing the testing as she promised. In the end, she wasn't willing to get well. When people don't take responsibility for their health, and it backfires on them, it becomes the blame game."
(Midwestern University bioethicist Greg Loeben says of the Vancomycin scenario, "It's just not responsible practice to give out a script for a dangerous drug contingent on the patient taking a test of some kind. You can't give people dangerous meds and then figure out if it's appropriate or not. It exposes the patient to significant harm.")
What actually finished things for Alyssa was a "special consent" form Rosdahl and Love demanded that she sign or face "termination" as a patient at the clinic.
Written on Remnant's letterhead, it called for Alyssa to "consent to ending my relationship with my boyfriend 'David,' as stipulated by Dr. Dana Rosdahl and Janet Love. I acknowledge it is for the greatest good of my well-being. I am aware he is a negative presence in my life and is compromising the treatment protocol."
If Alyssa violated the "contract" and communicated with David in person, by phone, or through e-mail, it would "lead to the dismissal of all of my care at Remnant Health Center."
Alyssa declined to sign the form and says she told her parents afterward, "Dana is insane, and I never want to see her again."
And she didn't.
Rosdahl's take is, "Alyssa would tell me about the relationship, and that the boyfriend didn't care if she got well. But when I confronted her on it, it didn't go well."
Dr. Loeben says the proposed boyfriend-dumping contract "was obviously used as a threat to get what they wanted — total obedience — and was totally inappropriate and manipulative."
Alyssa Goodale was weaned off the antibiotics and narcotics as time passed, and she says she started to feel a little better.
Her parents are not wealthy, and her health insurance apparently won't cover a visit to an infectious-disease specialist.
"But I've been tested for everything by this point," she says, "and no one finds anything."
She says a Mesa naturopathic physician did diagnose her at the end of last year with Epstein-Barr, a commonly diagnosed fatigue illness.
"My faith and willingness to believe a diagnosis has been demolished," she says. "I simply doubt what I hear now, and I don't really trust anyone with my body anymore."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Alyssa says she still gets sick but that the only meds she is taking are for her asthma, allergies, and continuing menstrual problems.
"But things are very, very, very slowly coming back to how it used to be a couple of years ago," she says, "which makes me happy."
Alyssa says she is getting straight As this semester at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
One last note: Alyssa says she is still dating David, the boyfriend that Rosdahl and Love wanted her to dump.