Earlier today I was thinking about the blog and what I should write about tonight. I realized that you really don’t know the story of how I contracted this blessed Lyme Disease in the first place so maybe I should give you a little background. It has been a long and winding road but I will try to make it brief. I am not going to cover the heavy medical aspects of the disease because that is not the goal of my blog. There are plenty of websites on the internet that can give you information on Chronic Lyme Disease and I recommend that you start at www.ilads.org if you are just beginning your search. I would rather use this site to tell you what I have experienced on my journey and if I can help others with the emotional aspects of living with a chronic illness then I would take that as an added blessing.
One blissful morning in the year 2000, I woke up in my bedroom loft of my lakefront home that you see above. My cat was curled up at the foot of the bed resting, before she started her rotational-door-nagging to be let out to guard the perimeter of the property and report back her findings. I sat up and ran my hands through my long hair with the intention of pulling it back into a pony tail. This is a maneuver I had performed every morning of my life for as long as I could remember. That morning would be very different.
“What the hell is THAT?” I felt a bump the size of an eraser head above my left eye, right at my hairline. I was out of the bed like a shot and down the loft stairs to look in the bathroom mirror. Parting my hair and trying to focus at the same time, I saw a black engorged TICK having his morning coffee (my blood) while he chatted with his little friend who was sitting right next to him who hadn’t latched on yet. I . FLIPPED . OUT .
You’ve gotta understand something here. I am a Paramedic. We DON’T flip out. When people are running around at the site of a massive car accident, we are walking to the mangled cars assessing the scene. When bystanders are screaming in horror at the sight of blood on an injured person, we are calmly putting on our gloves and reaching for bandages. When families are screaming, “Do something he’s turning blue!” We calmly begin CPR and get someone to attend to the family so they don’t have to witness their beloved dying. It’s in the training. The longer you do this, the less capable you are of flipping out. I . FLIPPED . OUT .
After taking a breath and uttering a very loud expletive, I used my shaking hands to carefully remove the unwelcomed guests from the coffee bar and placed them into a plastic cup with a lid. Then I called my nurse mother (of course, don’t we always call our mothers first?) to ask her what she thought I should do. Even though I knew through all my years of training that I needed to call the doctor for antibiotics…DUH, I lived in the heart of Lyme country…so I called him next.
Me: Ummm, I just pulled a REALLY enlarged tick off my scalp. Do you think I should be seen today and maybe be started on some antibiotics?
Doc: Wellllll, I don’t really think that is necessary just yet. Do you have a bulls-eye rash? A fever?
Me: No but I just pulled it off my scalp this morning. I kept the ticks in a jar in case you want to test them. Do you want me to bring them in?
Doc: Noooo, that’s ok. We don’t have the equipment to do something like that so you can just dispose of them. Tell you what… Why don’t you just monitor yourself for a rash, a fever or if you start to feel flu-like and if any of those things happen then come in and we will treat you ok?
Me: Ummm, are you sure? The tick was pretty big. He had been there at least overnight.
Doc: Yes, I am sure. Don’t worry about it. Ok? Buh-Bye now.
I was dumbfounded. I just stood there holding the receiver in one hand and the plastic jar of squirmy little balls of infection in the other hand. I slowly hung up the phone, walked over to the toilet and flushed the ticks to their watery grave. As I rounded the corner out of the bathroom, I crossed paths with Her Royal Highness headed to the porch to be let outside for the first round of guard duty. It never dawned on me until years later that she was the perpetrator and the scene of the crime was the safety of my own bedroom.
To be continued…