three days in the wilderness

The illness came on like a vicious badger. Fever and chills, weariness deep in my bones. It wiped out the remainder of Sunday like a squeegee pulled across wet glass. When I arose Monday morning the fever was gone and so off to work I rode. On the way I encountered a rain squall and took cover for some time under a tree. About an hour after I finally reached the office, the chills returned with wicked vengeance. What strange ailment this was, with its unusual suite of symptoms. Shaking uncontrollably at my desk, I tapped out an SOS. As I waited for my rescuer to arrive, I suddenly recalled the tick bites I’d received while out birding a week and a half before. One of the ticks had eluded my attention for what may have been longer than the “safe” period for transmission. That’s right, Lyme disease. Cursory web searching revealed a match for my symptoms. Not typically one for alarmist self-diagnosis, I wanted to believe it was just coincidence, but the facts could not be ignored. At the clinic, I shared what information I had with the health professionals. They, too, could not look past the facts, although the blood work they performed pointed to a viral, not a bacterial infection. That was encouraging. To be safe, the doctor ordered a Lyme titer and antibiotic treatment to address the possibility of a non-coincidence. I went home and lived through two days of feeling sicker than I have in a long time. And then yesterday the scourge left as suddenly as it had arrived, like a dark mantle yanked from my body. I felt reborn. The test results have yet to come back. However, the Lyme titer typically doesn’t show positive until at least four weeks after a tick bite, and my bite occurred much more recently. So I may never know if I had the disease. I may never know the true cost I paid to finally find that bobolink.

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  1. I’m glad you’re feeling better!

  2. Richard

     /  June 21, 2012

    Glad you’re back in business and feeling better. My mom had Lyme Disease back in the mid to late 80’s when I was in junior high. Not pleasant.

    • Thanks, Richard. Good to hear from you again! How are things going down there?

      • Richard

         /  June 21, 2012

        Doing okay here. Busy but okay. Hot and humid…

        I really enjoy reading your writing. I wish I could write as well as you.

        • Thanks, man! I’m glad you enjoy it. Yeah, it’s hot here, too. Supposed to be a high of 102 today. I realize that’s just routine for you, but we usually don’t get that sort of nonsense until August around here, and usually only for a few days out of the month. So this doesn’t bode well for the rest of the summer. I may have to rent an igloo at the North Pole if this keeps up.

  3. taidgh

     /  June 21, 2012

    Welcome back from the wilderness. Sounds scary! Based on your experience I’ll think twice if I’m ever invited to go on a hunt for a bobolink. The possibility of getting Lyme disease, no thanks! Glad to hear you’re feeling better and that the ‘dark mantle has been yanked from your body’.

    • Thanks, Taidgh! I will personally still be looking for bobolinks, but will be equally vigilant about watching for ticks. Unfortunately the only way to truly keep them at bay is to douse yourself in chemicals. But then you end up with cancer later in life after decades of smearing poison on your skin. It’s pretty much a lose-lose scenario for us. The ticks, on the other hand, always seem to get what they want, regardless of our vigilance.

  4. Hope you are reliably on the mend and stay that way. Whenever I have been that sick it has felt like the friendship between body and soul was shaken.

    • Thanks, Dia. Good way of putting it. That friendship did indeed feel tested. I felt very disconnected. And then suddenly it all came back together. It was quite odd.



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