When Life Gives You Lyme... Disease

Let me tell you right off the bat Lyme disease SUCKS. I haven’t even experienced the worst symptoms because I hopped on it as soon as I saw the first sign of rash but what I have got really hasn’t been awesome.

I’ve kind of been put off for a couple of days because I really was not feeling well at all. I had a really bad headache that was preventing me from reading or writing or even eating. On my way from Boston to Long Island I could hardly focus on my drive. I was nauseous, had a fever, and could barely keep my eyes open. It felt like I was getting a really bad case of the flu. I’m feeling much better now so I thought this would be a good place to update.

There is a lesson to be had here. In the past I would have allowed this situation to really take hold of my anxiety but I have been doing my best lately to consciously avoid or suppress unnecessary frustration.  More and more I am seeing the value of introspection and reflection.

3 or 4 days before I left Syracuse I found two ticks on my left waist area right where my belt sits. I didn’t really know what to do other than take them out. Then panic started to set in. Among all the possibilities or possibly outcomes I just kept thinking “I’m leaving in 3 days, I don’t have time to deal with this shit.” Never take chances when it comes to your health. (A few weeks before this I had surgery to have a cyst removed after waiting 3 months to have it looked at. I ended up having to pay out of pocket because I did not seek medical attention when I should have. I rushed to have it removed before my insurance coverage changed and I missed it.)

“It will go away, I’ll be fine, I’ll just wait it out.” When you have a hangover, those are probably all safe bets, but not when you find two ticks attached to your body in an area where bites are known to cause infection.  I was worried about money after the surgery I just had, I wasn’t sure if my doctor would be able to get me in before my depart date, and more generally I was just hoping that I would get lucky.

My cousin lives just outside of Boston in Cambridge, MA and was gracious enough to let me stay at her place for the few days I was there. This was huge because I could use the break from spending on AirBnB. 3 days and no unnecessary spending!

The rash showed up the following day in Boston and I was hundreds of miles from my doctor. (There is a gallery below if you’re curious what a Lyme rash looks like. It’s not that gross, I didn’t take a picture of it at it’s worst.) I spent the whole day in a tizzy going from this urgent care to that one, on the phone with my doctor, with my mom, and with the pharmacy.  It took an entire day away from me where I had planned to get a lot of exploring done. I jumped to the worst possible outcome when looking at the symptoms of Lyme and how it could play out not to mention the fact that I am allergic to almost every antibiotic there is. The stress was starting to compound.  Lyme disease can be dangerous if it’s not found until the late stages and can even be fatal if not treated early enough. There are cases of paralysis, loss of motor skills, joint problems, and memory loss. Luckily, I have an amazing primary care physician who sent a script all the way to Boston and I was able to get the drug I needed. Thankfully there is one antibiotic I can take, so that’s what I got.

It figures, right when I don’t have to worry about money this has to happen! Out of pocket prescription costs for a weeks worth of Erythromycin will run you about 230 dollars at CVS. That’s 3 days worth of AirBnB.

At the end of the day, when I had nothing to do but wait for the drugs, I asked myself a question. “To what degree have I contributed to my current level of suffering?”

Had this happened 2 years ago, I would have answered that question like this, “To no degree at all! The Universe is against me! God hates me! The Universe does not want me to be happy!” I would have cast blame everywhere but at myself. That’s what happens when you sink into bitterness and resentment. Everything becomes about your victimhood and the rejection of your sacrifices and good deeds. It’s a difficult place to be and an even more difficult place to get out of.  

When you blame the Universe you give up control over yourself. Casting blame at the Universe means that you have allowed yourself to believe that God (or some higher spirit) has aimed an arrow of misfortune directly at you. And if the Universe is the only source of your suffering then it becomes the only source of relief. You’ll always be waiting for it to swoop in and save you. That’s nihilistic and unhealthy. Having some accountability is extremely empowering. Once you recognize and own your decisions you will take back control over your ability to change the outcome.

I could have went to the doctor as soon as I found the ticks. That’s what I should have done. I also should have been wearing bug spray because I knew I was going to a park where my sister’s dog got ticks and about which there were newspaper articles regarding the uptick (custy pun intended) in infected cases this year. I definitely should have checked myself more thoroughly for ticks when I got home from the park. Each one of those could have possibly prevented this entire ordeal.

I’ve been able to take a valuable lesson away from this tick bite. It’s an example of having to change plans and things not going exactly as you need or want them to. It shows that sometimes you need to improvise and expect the unexpected. It is also a very big test to my patience and anxiety. Having accountability and taking control has kept me in the realm of reason; looking to myself and to my decisions instead of swearing that the Universe hates me. It doesn’t.

"Everything is a lesson. When you begin to see it like that, you will transmute suffering into joy." – My very good friend, Mic Finger.