I got Lyme disease a few weeks ago.
Never saw the tick.
I was up in Maryland playing in the woods and going on the river. Saturday afternoon I went for what turned out to be an 11 mile trail run (totally irrelevant but I wanted to work that in because I set out for about 6 miles and felt so good I just kept going! #proudofme). When I returned to the house I was staying at I jumped in the shower and noticed a big red spot on the back of my left thigh. As I had just finished running through stinging nettles and other unpleasantness I thought “meh, I’ll take a look at that later”.
Later it was a big, red and white, hot, uncomfortable bulls-eye rash.
I admit. I can totally succumb to being a little bit of a hypochondriac.
My PCP is Dr. Google.
I try to resist bandwagons and Lyme is super hip these days. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions.
But! After consulting several IRL M.D’s (as well as too many image searches and forums) I decided the likelihood that it was Lyme was worth the crappiness of taking a 10 day dose of the antibiotic Doxycycline, the standard treatment for catching Lyme at the rash stage.
I made the right decision. About 30 hours into the rash and my left thigh was hot and swollen and the lymph nodes in that area were extremely tender to the touch. By day 3 of medication both of these symptoms had dissipated.
Here’s what I learned about Lyme through my experience. Remember, I ain’t no medical professional and this disease is tricky because it doesn’t manifest exactly the same in everyone.
- An infected tick has to be feasting on you for at least 24 hours before you are infected with the bacteria. Once it’s done eatin’, it falls off which means that many people don’t see the tick that got them.
- IF* you get a rash, it usually appears 3-30 days after being infected.
- *Not everyone gets a rash. Although it was uncomfortable, I actually feel lucky to have gotten a sign that I’d been infected. The sooner you treat, the easier!
- Bulls-eye rashes are pretty unique, although they can be confused with staph. Doxycycline also treats MRSA, the hardest to treat form of staph infection.
- Bulls-eye rashes have to be at least 4 cm to classify as Lyme, mine was over 4 inches by the time it stopped expanding.
- If caught in the first month or two a 10-14 day treatment of antibiotics should knock it all out, if not caught until later it can be very challenging to diagnose and treat and result in all kinds of nasty issues (I resisted looking into this too much because I was already a little stressed by the whole thing, didn’t need any more).
- Lyme is generally diagnosed and treated based on symptoms, rather than tests. This is especially true in the early stages because you can develop the rash and other symptoms before your body has had time to produce the antibodies to the bacteria, and, as I said it’s better to treat ASAP.
I have always been a sketched out by ticks but now I’m fighting to resist paranoia. In conclusion, check yourself, thoroughly, if there’s any possibility of a blood sucker finding it’s way on to you and don’t be afraid to leap onto that passing wagon if it might save you years of crazy issues.