It’s somewhat hard for me to believe but insect enemy number one, the parasitic deer tick, somehow managed to infect me without me ever seeing them sucking my blood. I knew I had many of the symptoms for Lyme disease back in June when I was sidelined in Cheshire and unable to move for nearly a day (see the story I be Illin’), but I felt better, the hike went on, and we finished up last week. But I told myself all along that though I didn’t see a tick embedded on me and am feeling fine now, I was still going to get the blood work done to double check.
So we got back to my parents this past Saturday and I made an appointment with a local doctor to get the blood work done and somewhat to my surprise today, I got the call that I tested positive for Lyme disease and need to take an antibiotic to hopefully knock it out for good. Apparently, if caught early enough, the disease can be eradicated from the system but often, people don’t realize they have it until it’s really in their system and causing more serious neurological problems. The woman from the doctor’s office seemed pretty nonchalant about it today and said to simply take the pills for a few weeks and that should be that. However, I’ve also heard stories about Lyme staying with people for the rest of their life. I’m likely to do some follow up research here.
Lyme was such a tale of two stories on the AT. I read an article by a fellow hiker friend on the disease that he’d written for a backpacking magazine so I was pretty familiar with ticks, looking out for them, and what to look for with Lyme. I found a few ticks on me at times but never embedded on my skin. I always found them crawling on my shoes or on my leg hair but never biting down. Along with being prepared, it was a common topic on the trail among hikers. We had actually met quite a few hikers that had it or at least the symptoms and were consequently on the antibiotic. Many were paranoid about it and now I feel like rightly so. I received many warnings from friends, hikers, and the signs in MA and CT.
On the other side of the coin, I met guys that were pretty matter of fact about the “red ring”, “bulls eye mark” or “red rash” that is typically present around the bite site and if this wasn’t present, then Lyme was very unlikely. I even met an infectious disease doctor that I told my symptoms to but after he learned about my never finding a tick on me or the typical red marking, concluded it highly unlikely I would have Lyme.
Either way, I’m really glad I followed through on the simple testing. Lyme could ride with me for the rest of my life and cause big problems down the road. With catching it early, it shouldn’t be a problem going ahead. While I have lots of good memories from the trail experience, Lyme is not something I want to be carrying with me for the rest of my life.