Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When Did You Get Lyme?

My daughters and I have Lyme disease. Like Alix, I was misdiagnosed with Lupus and finally was diagnosed with Lyme disease during the fall of 2008, my daughters in early 2009. It's been a tough road, but slowly we're making progress. I'm pleased to join the SpiroChicks team.

We've all been asked the question, "When did you get Lyme?"

I will never know when I was exposed or if I have been repeatedly infected, but I've certainly had ample opportunity. As a child, I spent five summers from the ages of 5 and 10, camping for entire summers while my father worked on his Master's at Central Michigan University's Biological Station on Beaver Island. Covered from head to toe with black fly, no-see-um and mosquito bites, it was a fabulous childhood and a pivotal influence on my adult life.

Our family spent the summer of 1976 camping while my parents cleared land and built their home in a wooded lot adjacent to a field frequented by deer. I loved to walk with my dog and ride my pony through those fields while growing up.

The run-in with ticks on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains?

During the fall of 1983 at Michigan Technological University, I spent a night in the woods with fellow classmates as we helped with an off-road rally, the Press on Regardless. I awoke days later, running a fever and covered from head to toe with tiny spots. The campus physician was puzzled by my illness. My son, born a year and a half later was 9 1/2 weeks premature.

Add a another red flag to the summer of 1989. I was taking field classes at the University of Michigan Biological Station. A chipmunk was a continual visitor to our dorm room. Did it carry a tick into our room?

During that summer, our class of 15 students and three instructors headed to Sugar Island for an overnight field trip. The group stayed in one cabin and some of us opted to sleep overnight under the stars, myself included. I still remember the beautiful stars and my giggles as my sleeping bag kept sliding toward the lake shore. When our class was preparing to return to the Station, I became violently ill with what at the time I thought were flu or food poisoning symptoms. However, I was the only one who became ill. I now know that a summer "flu", especially if no one else becomes ill, is a very red flag.

Within a few years, I could hardly walk due to arthritis in my right knee, I had daily sore throats, frequent respiratory and UTI infections and lost my voice at the slightest cold. A walk-in collision with a school bus mirror resulted in post-concussion syndrome, two weeks of missed work and months of short-term memory loss. I was bothered for many months, nearly a year, when an itchy sore on the back of neck in my hairline refused to heal. Students would remind me to eat protein when I would become weak and pale. Ten summers were spent at the University of Michigan Biological Station in northern Michigan.

Our current home backs up to a beautiful field. Deer frequent our backyard. I am a biologist and a nature photographer. Much of my life has been spent surrounded by nature. It is a part of who I am and what I love. My husband sides with the MTU theory. The truth is that we can only be sure of one thing. I've had it for a long time.


monkey girl said...

After reading Pamela Weintraub's book Cure Unknown, and reading about how she moved her family to a high rise apartment complex and completely away from nature, the 'concrete jungle' she called it...I understood, but I just could never do that.
Every time I see the deer roam around the open space behind our house, I'll admit it makes me nervous. And when one of the ladies from our lyme support group contracted lyme last summer from the state park which is literally across the road from our house, yes I vowed never to step foot in the park again.
But I can't move. I love it here. And although there's a chance I might be reinfected, I just can't let those effing bugs win...and make me move away from what I love.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Kim said...

I understand Pamela's retreat, but I don't think I would do well in the 'concrete jungle.' The fear of reinfection is something I will have to come to terms with, as part of my healing. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone!

Kim said...

I have to say, whenever I think about taking the kids hiking or even going to a pumpkin patch in portolla valley recently, I can't help but think about ticks. Which is really hard, since I feel so much more peaceful when I'm connected to nature. As my concern with EMFs (electromagnetic fields) has been growing, I keep thinking of going back to my roots and "living off the grid" in Idaho or Montana. BUT, then the tick factor comes back into play. I really worry about my boys and don't want them to have a life limited by chronic disease, like mine. So here I sit, in San Jose. We don't have deer, but we do have a lot of squirrels and raccoons...

Alix said...

Kim, you are setting up an equation that could be laid out over google maps:

1/ minimize EMF
2/ minimize proximity to infected ticks

Wouldn't that be a great tool?

Kim said...

HA! Let's get some techno geek on it!