A couple of months ago, I wrote an article on the increasing danger of ticks and the Lyme disease that they can transmit. And while this is a relevant topic to our community, it also has a more personal story to it. In December of 2017, when I was in 7th grade, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
I still remember when I first found out. It was after one of my modified basketball games and my older cousin hugged me and then said in a half-serious, half-joking manner that I had “lemon disease” in an attempt to break the news more softly. Seeing my obvious confusion, my mom then told me that I actually had Lyme disease. At first I didn’t believe her. I mean, why would I? Nobody expects to all of a sudden be told that they have a serious condition. But once the initial surprise had worn off, I had to come to terms with my new reality.
My symptoms started to appear a couple of months before my diagnosis. I was always tired and my lower back, as well as my knees was very achy. Yet even in a household that was hyper-vigilant about checking for ticks, my family didn’t know what to suspect. While we have always been an outdoorsy type family that was well aware of Lyme disease and ticks, I didn’t show the tell-tale sign of a red bulls-eye rash, nor had we found a tick on me in the past year.
When I finally went to the doctor, he recommended that I get blood work done. When my results came out a few weeks later, we were shocked to discover that I had Lyme disease. I was then put on an antibiotic medication, a large blue pill, as well as a smaller white one used to combat the nausea associated with the antibiotic. I had to take a blue pill and a white one every morning and every night for about 30 days, which doesn’t sound like much, but for me, felt like it stretched on for weeks.
At the time, I didn’t know how to swallow pills and whenever I attempted to, I would chicken out only moments before and have to spit it out. Instead, my parents cracked open the pill shell casing and poured out the powder inside into a bowl of applesauce. Then I would have to eat every bit to ensure that I got the whole dose. However, even inside the food, I could still taste the disgusting flavor, but I evidently had to force it all down.
Eventually, after many failed attempts, I managed to become accustomed to swallowing pills. Every morning and every night I would use Lipton’s half and half drink in order to mask the taste of the pill if it accidentally touched my tongue. Near the end, the task became more difficult as my gag reflex started to kick in. To this day, I no longer find the half and half drink appetizing as it reminds me of this time.
Finally, after completing the weeks of doses and another blood test, I was Lyme disease free. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I no longer have Lyme disease. Others have it much more severe and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives.
So let this be a story of warning. Be aware of the risks and dangers, as well as the prevention of ticks and Lyme disease. Know the signs and symptoms. Catching it early can make the difference between a temporary bout or chronic Lyme disease.