Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Once Upon a Tick: A Story of Lyme Disease

This is LONG ... and I apologize in advance.

My husband is originally from Northern Minnesota.
And we pretty much spend every Christmas, Memorial Weekend and summer vacation, and odd Fall week visiting his side of the family every year. We've driven through blizzards and ice storms, severe thunderstorms, fog and deep, dark nights to make that 8-hour one way trip. (Not to mention making that long journey with babies barely 5 WEEKS old!) ack.
Sacrifice ... marriage includes sacrifice--and for my husband, the sacrifice includes being AWAY from his beloved home state--for me it's going to his home state--which is funny because before we met, my dream was to meet and marry a farmer from Minnesota. (seriously, ask my college roommate.)

There is a lot of beauty with the lakes and trees and skies up there:
And it's every boys' DREAM:
 Jeff refers to it as "God's Country":
  My favorite part are the rocks. They are like God's Jewelry Box::
  That I made last year into cool necklaces like these:
But even though Minnesota is lush and green:
 It is not Eden:
 One day we took a boat ride across the lake to go "exploring":
And I think that is when I picked up this deer tick:
Gross eh? Well, unlike a wood tick, these guys are TINY--yes, that is a DIME it is compared to!

Tiny or not, it gave me this ... Lyme Disease:
(notice my belly button that I'm trying to flatten out, I'll refer to it later.)
 This is the tell-tale "bull's eye rash"and it HURTS like a nasty bruise:
And it extended from ONE hip bone across to the OTHER when it was full blown.

Symptoms of Lyme disease are a lot like the flu ... but 100 times worse.
Intense Headache
• Nausea
• Swollen and sore joints
• Spreading "Bulls-eye" Rash (not in all cases)
And the long-term symptoms when NOT treated of arthritis, heart problems, joint pain etc. is not encouraging either!

I first noticed a huge grapefruit size swollen area in my groin area on Friday afternoon when I was moving totes of our camping stuff from the cabin to the back of the truck. Wow.
It hurt! ... but I kinda figured it must be a "woman thing" and maybe it was my ovarian cyst gone bizzirk. But as the weekend progressed, it grew ... and I just felt "not well." I couldn't put my finger on why but I knew I was sick--and I finally broke down (as in crying) and told Jeff that I was not feeling well Saturday night after a long barbeque at his brother's house that lasted until after midnight.

Unfortunately he didn't think it was nearly as bad as it was and he asked that I muster some strength for the rest of the next day until we left. We took our sweet time leaving for that LONG 8 hour drive home letting the kids play on the beach (with me being life-guard), stopping at family along the way to chat ... and it was Fourth of July day ... which last year was on a Sunday ... which meant that all doctors took Monday as a vacation. By the time I was able to call my doctor on Tuesday morning (because I'm too practical and cheap to go to the ER) my temperature was hanging steady at 104+ degrees, I was oscillating between Tylenol for the fever and Excedrin for the INTENSE headache, which really only took the edge off so I didn't feel like my brain would explode. I literally CRAWLED down the stairs on my hands and knees to search out the Tylenol/Excedrin the morning we came home and then collapsed on the couch. (I hated to wake up the family to ask for help. Oh my goodness. I guess I was a bit delusional.)

When the doctor was able to see me at 2pm on Tuesday (remember I came home SUNDAY) I sat in the waiting room trying to be pleasant and realizing that since that was about as hard as when I was in the delivery room having a baby this was no small thing. (Because even with the high temp and the headache and the swollen-ness I would not let myself believe I was truly sick.)
At this point I did NOT have the tell-tale bulls-eye rash and I was praying for answers, that it wasn't a tubal pregnancy or something that would require surgery ... but that there would be a cure.

Amazingly, when I gave the doctor the details and she did the exam ... in the 10 minutes (literally!) that I had been waiting in the waiting room the rash HAD appeared and she immediately ordered a prescription for the month long antibiotic that would kill the bacteria invading my body. The swollen-ness in my groin? It was my lymph node in hyper-drive funneling out all the bad stuff the tick bite right above it on my lower tummy was producing.
When Jeff drove the 20 miles into town to get my prescription they said there would be a bit of a wait ... so he took the boys to get a SubWay sandwich. What the pharmacy FAILED to tell him was that because of the recent holiday they would be closing EARLY. (grrrrr) So, when they returned a half hour later ... they were CLOSED!
I cried.
I literally cried when he called.
(The doctor said it would take about 2 days for the medicine to kick in once I started taking it. And the thought of it being one more day was crushing.)
Jeff felt horrible. But there was not much he could do.
So the next morning, as soon as the pharmacy opened I drove in the 20 miles, with ALL the boys in tow, for the medicine. I totally should not have been behind the wheel of a vehicle and I really wanted to yell at the pharmacist ... but I didn't. I didn't really have the strength.

Thankfully the medicine DID work, I recovered, I do not have the Lyme antibody in my system as it was diagnosed and treated early! AND I was also forced to deal with my umbilical hernia that I had been suffering with since the birth of our last son two years prior. (Go ahead scroll back up to that first photo of the tick bite, I'm trying to hide it with my hand.) The Lyme Disease REALLY made that hurt as the medicine changed my intestinal track make-up for a bit. SO, I finally had the courage to AGAIN ask my doctor to check out my painful and ugly belly button that I had convinced myself was "normal" after carrying 3 BIG babies.

He confirmed it was a hernia and scheduled a surgery date to have it fixed ... because as he pointed out, it's either have it fixed NOW when it's convenient, or do it later when it's an ER visit and your guts are being strangulated and it's suddenly a life and death situation.
ACK! Hmmmm, okay no argument really.
As you remember I had my broken belly button fixed in November. (I'll post those before and after pictures sometime.)
I will say that I can now once again run a 5k without feeling like my guts are going to spill out all over. (Or at least not because of the belly button issue.) And although they didn't do any sort of a "tuck" while in there <>... it does look normal again. 

So, almost a YEAR later ... I'm FINALLY able to make this post about the Lyme Disease episode.
I am SO glad it was ME who got it and not one of my kids or even my husband (who wouldn't have gone to the doctor until he was about dead.)
I don't let things go easily so it's a lesson in getting over things ... and it was hard for me to go back to the cabin over the Memorial Day ... even if it was not an overnight trip. And since we'll be going up there soon once again maybe it's good to have made a trial run once already.

I almost had brushed it all under the rug and just moved forward ... but this weekend while changing Nolan's diaper (yes, potty training is NOT going well) I noticed a little, TINY, dark dot on his leg by where the tab on his diaper connects. It really looked like a tiny sore from chaffing and since he's getting a bit large for those diapers I almost just shrugged it off as that. But the mom in me just wouldn't, so I got my nose RIGHT down in there to check it out.
And it was NOT a chaff mark. It was a TINY deer tick!
YUCK!!! (Did I mention that last year at the SAME time I was dealing with Lyme Disease from MN, a guy from our church also had it and had gotten it from a tick from the park next to where we live?)
(That is a pin by the way ... it is SMALLER than the head of a pin!)

How scary!
I plucked it off with a tweezer. I have it in a ziplock in my fridge just in case he starts to show any symptoms. But thankfully Nolan so far has shown no signs of Lyme Disease.
Yes, we live in a wooded area, we have an outdoor dog and it's been a HORRIBLY good season already for ticks due to the weather. So our chances of having ticks is a bit more than good--but quite honestly, it should be an issue for our DOG, not so much US! And since we've never had a problem before with ANY kind of tick ... and we Frontline our dog I was a bit freaked by it all!
I guess it is a reflection of how much time we spend outdoors--ALL THE TIME! And with 3 boys, that's to be expected. I am thankful that God is watching over us and providing the help we need when we need it.

So if this post helps even one person be more vigilant in checking for ticks, going to the doctor for any of the above symptoms, including the umbilical hernia, I will be glad to have posted it.

Be safe out there this summer!


Girly Girl Mommy said...


Just had to start with that! Ticks make me totally squeamish. Paul had Lyme 6 years ago (also caught in time) and my mom has it (as in, not caught in time and dealing with serious ramifications). And we are not outdoorsy in the least. Ticks abound in our back yard. We have had quite a few this year. I had my first in many years and still shudder thinking about it.

So thankful you got meds in time and that it served to get you to take care of your belly button issue!

No fun.

The Sanders Family said...

Did you write this post for me ;) You know I still need to have my stomach checked out!!!

And you also know our issues with ticks. Just a few days ago I pulled two off of Chloe's head, hiding under her hair at the nape of her neck. ugh. And even scarier to think we now have to fear deer ticks. I thought they were quite rare in these parts. yikes! Thanks for the heads up. I'll be checking better now! And praying for Nolan, that he continues to show no signs of troubles.

As for you, you poor thing. I know I had heard the whole story of your tick ordeal, but to hear it again just reminded me how awful it was! So thankful you came through it with minimal issues, and as you said, got your umbilical hernia fixed through it to. God is so very good!! :)

Football and Fried Rice said...

Wow - this is scary!! I have known people who have had lymes disease and it is serious business!!!!!!!! I know how you feel about being grateful it was you & not one of your kids that had the tick - so thankful you are feeling good now and your belloy button is fixed :)

The family

The family