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Rona's Story

Last summer (July 1998), my husband and I vacationed in Beaufort, SC. When we unpacked in the hotel, I showered. When I was toweling off, in the buff, my husband said to me, "What is that?" Not knowing what he was talking about, I said, "What is what?" He said, "That tiny black spot on your thigh?" I said, "What black spot," as I torqued my body in front of the bathroom door mirror trying to see an area to the right of my right thigh closer to my backside where one's shorts might end.

I couldn't see where he was referring to. He said, "Come here and let me look at it under the light." He said he saw a dime size purple circle with a little tick in the center, and went to get his Swiss army knife with the little metal tweezers hidden in the top. He tried to pull it out, but said the head looked like it was buried in my skin. Well, that's the last thing I needed to hear. I ordered him to GET IT OUT! As a trained veterinarian, he said it was better if he didn't break the head off and suggested we head for the nearest emergency room. It was now 1 am.

The emergency room was filled with the type of people you'd expect to find in an ER. I meekly told the receptionist my plight and began a long wait until after all the gunshot wounds, barfing drunks, fisherman with fishing hooks in their fingers, etc., were seen first. All the while, the knot in my stomach was getting tighter as I remembered stories of friends who got Lyme Disease - a veterinarian technician who had to stop working; a friend's dog who got bitten and died.

I racked my brain as to where I could have picked up a tick -- and not the big, blood-engorged kind my dog got that I would pull off of her with a big pair of tweezers. No sirree. This was one of those bad kinds of ticks. I was getting more nauseous as the minutes ticked away. This was something that happened to other people, not me! Well, so much for that theory!

When my chance came, I was grateful to see a very patient emergency room doctor, with a lovely international accent. I told him I had had weird pains in my right ankle to the point where I couldn't walk the day before. I also had some joint pain in the end three fingers of my right hand and had trouble making a fist. He took one look at the dime-sized rash and the "black dot" and was convinced it was a deer tick, or what I incorrectly like to call a Lyme tick!

All I pleaded was to GET IT OFF OF ME! "Cut my leg off if you have to," I joked. I tried to remain calm as he said he was getting his sterile surgery kit because he thought he might have to take a stitch or two. I asked him how long he thought the tick had been hitchhiking on me. He said, "About two days." As I waited on my stomach for him to "operate," I once again began to search my memory of what I was doing two days before.

A light bulb lit, yes, I was at the beach with my husband and dog. In goes the numbing needle. I was wearing shorts. Here comes the scalpel. We were sitting on a log by the water eating our breakfast. Scrape, scrape. The tick was located on my body exactly where my shorts ended and the log began. Fling in the garbage. This little bugger must've climbed up me for breakfast. "All gone," the doctor announced. "Phew, that wasn't too bad," I thought. And no stitches either. He gave me a script for one week of doxycycline and said, "don't worry we get a lot of Lyme cases here in Beaufort. We are experts." Famous last words.

I had the script filled in the local Beaufort pharmacy the next day and started taking them. As soon as we got back home, I began a frantic Internet search to learn all I could about Lyme Disease. The following week, I limped into my GP and demanded a script for a blood test. It came back borderline positive. He gave me two weeks of tetracycline. I would later learn this was useless. I went back on the Internet and met some local Lymies who would eventually save my life.

I soon realized that the one week and two weeks of antibiotics weren't going to work. I persevered on the Internet and was able to obtain the highly guarded names of two Lyme specialists, who believed in long-term antibiotic treatment for "curing" the disease. I called the two specialists. One couldn't see me for a month. The second call netted me a Thursday appointment, the day the second set of antibiotics were to end. Hallelujah!

I dragged my husband along, as proof I actually had a tick/rash on me that was removed. I could've kicked myself for not knowing to ask the ER doctor to give me the tick so I could have had it analyzed later. I also brought the ER doctor's form saying I had had a tick. Based on what I had read on the Internet, I was prepared for a fight! What I found was such a very sympathetic doctor who gave me a prescription for six weeks of doxycycline and lots of yogurt.

Within time, my joint pain subsided and I was able to use my fingers again. It is now eight months later. I still get some weird joint pains, but for the most part, I think that last dose of doxy did the trick. I hope! Best of luck to all those Lymies who helped me, especially Pat!

Rona from Glen Cove (where obviously those little buggers now live.)

P.S. - Interestingly, my Mom exhibited some chronic Lyme-like symptoms and went to see one of the phony Stonybrook Lyme doctors, who she swore were "the best in the business." I warned her about what I learned on the Internet, but she wouldn't listen. Sure enough, she was told that she was depressed, had fibromyalgia, and should see a rheumatologist and/or a neurologist.

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