My journey through Lyme Disease- Healing my body and mind.

The Bite

I traveled to Italy in 2004 to attend a field camp for geologic mapping for 2 months. I was in college as a geology major and the field camp was the final requirement to complete my degree. Upon arrival in Italy, I was warned that I would be doing field work in a Lyme Disease endemic area. Growing up on the east coast, I had heard of Lyme Disease before, but my perception of the illness was that it was a mild flu-like illness that people recovered from fully with little to no treatment. As a child running around in the woods in Virginia, I had been bitten by ticks several times. So, the fact that I was travelling to a Lyme-endemic area did not concern me in the least.

Field camp involved bushwhacking through the woods and grassy fields daily. There were several instances where, at the end of our field day, my cohorts and I would have so many tiny ticks on our clothing that we would have to pull them off with tape. One night while I was showering, I noticed a tick that had embedded itself in my leg close to my ankle. As a child, I had been taught how to properly remove ticks, so I gently pulled the tick out with tweezers and washed the bite area. After I shook off the heebee jeebees from the yucky tick, I didn’t think about it again.

The morning after removing the tick, I woke up with a red raised rash all over my body, literally from head to toe. The little red bumps were not itchy and they covered my cheeks, neck, chest, stomach, and legs. I had never had any sort of skin rash in my life. Since it was covering a big area of my body, I figured I must have been reacting to the sheets at our lodging facility. So, I went out and purchased my own sheets and washed them with mild soap. Despite my efforts, the rash got worse over the course of a week.

About 2 days after the bite, I also got flu symptoms: painful sinuses, achy joints and muscles, and low-grade fever. My flu symptoms were not pleasant, but they were mild enough that I was able to struggle through them and complete my field work. Despite being ill and having the mysterious ugly rash, I pushed through and ignored my symptoms to make the best of the rest of my time in Italy. Within two weeks of the tick bite, I had completely recovered from the flu-like symptoms and the rash had subsided. I left Italy and headed back to the United States with the tick bite and rash a distant memory.


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