Whew! I thought I had contracted Lyme Disease earlier this week. I had some of the major symptoms and went in for a blood test at the doctor's on Monday. Just got the results back and they were negative, but I was scared. Real scared.
I had a rash on my hip just below the waistline and I was experiencing uncharacteristic fatigue and severe muscle aches, about 10 days after returning from a two week hike through prime deer tick territory in New York and Connecticut.
My doctor doesn't have an explanation for my symptoms but my blood doesn't show any Lyme antibodies or an elevated white cell count, so I believe I'm in the clear. Blood tests for Lyme are not conclusive evidence that people haven't been infected, especially if the test is performed early in disease onset before antibodies have been produced, but together with a dissipation in symptoms, I'm considerably less nervous about it than before.
The rash turns out to be a fungal infection that I'm treating with over-the-counter meds and the muscle aches have tapered off after a few days of Vitamin I. I guess my defensive clothing systems worked after all.
About 4 years ago, I started wearing long pants on all my hikes to prevent Lyme infected tick bites. I wear Insect Shield treated long hiking pants, and spray all of my hiking clothes with Permethrin, (the active ingredient in Insect Shield) an insect neurotoxin that kills bugs that land on my clothing. It's not a repellent, but kills them dead.
Still, this incident was a wake-up call. I know people who've had Lyme Disease and it an be extremely debilitating with crippling neurological, cognitive, and arthritic-like symptoms that persist for years, if patients are not treated early in the disease cycle. Treating Lyme disease early is as simple as taking a long cycle of antibiotics, so early detection is important.
If you're not up to date on Lyme Disease and it's signs, and you hike in areas with a lot of dear or ticks, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Wikipedia publish some good reference information that is worth reading periodically. There's a lot you can do to protect yourself from Lyme Disease and if you or you family spend a lot of time outdoors, you owe it to yourself to be on top of this subject.
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