Like many people, I only recognized my first steps into the Lyme world well after-the-fact. And like many people, those steps began in a weekend filled with the pleasures of the outdoors.
Memorial Day weekend 2011, the WOW weekend – it was my first experience with the self-proclaimed Women of the Woods after a glorious weekend of camping, hiking and canoeing in the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania. I greatly enjoyed getting to know my neighbor better who had invited me along and was delighted with the fun adventure of meeting a group of fascinating women (the WOWers) and exploring a beautiful national recreation area for the first time.
Upon waking on Tuesday morning reluctantly getting ready to step back into the “real-world”, I noticed a strange series of three bites with a purple-streaked rash on the back of my shoulder, along where my tank top arm hole would have been. Knowing for sure it wasn’t caused by a mosquito or black-fly bite, I scheduled a visit to my doctor’s office just in case it was a tick bite or infected spider bite. After looking at the bites with a magnifying glass, the ARNP who was doing same day visits said she didn’t think it was a tick bite and sent me on my way.
The purple rash disappeared and I forgot about the bite until nearly three weeks later when a circular bulls-eye rash appeared. Knowing the strong possibility that this could be a Lyme rash, I took a trip into the walk-in clinic to take care of it ASAP. The doctor on call confirmed the rash as Lyme and offered me a choice of two different antibiotics. I chose the one that would allow me to still go out in the sun and went on my way assuming all would be well . . .
Note: I’ve sense learned that being prescribed 2 weeks of Amoxicillian is both unusual and woefully inadequate. The more typical treatment is 3 weeks of Doxycyclin which is the first antibiotic of choice. For my situation, given the amount of time that passed between the bite and the appearance of the rash, I should have been offered a minimum of 6 weeks of antibiotics and probably 3 months because of pre-existing autoimmune conditions. (Dogs are routinely given a full 30 days!) See ILADS Treatment guidelines.
I also learned that ticks are very common in the Delaware Water Gap and a high percentage of them carry Lyme Disease.