It was the summer of 1996, and I was an intern at Rhone Poulenc, a chemical company in Cranbury, New Jersey. The weather was nice enough that I was regularly wearing short sleeved polo shirts. I was also living in Princeton, New Jersey, in a home that had a lovely backyard that was often visited by deer, no matter what my mother did to try to repel them. At one point my mother cut my hair in the back yard because she had read somewhere that it was a good deer repellent.
One day, I noticed a small red rash on my left arm. I thought that perhaps it was some kind of a heat rash or that a mosquito had bitten me. A day or two later, I noticed that there was a ring around the small rash, and I showed it to one of my coworkers, who told me to immediately (or, in any case, after work) get to a doctor because he suspected that I had Lyme Disease.
The following day, I went to a doctor and showed him the small rash and he pulled up my sleeve and showed me what I had not seen — there was not just one ring around the rash but multiple rings spreading out almost to my armpit! How had I missed all of the rings? I was prescribed medication that would fight the disease and went on my way.
I took the full course of medication and my arm soon was completely free of the rash. I then reflected on something that I had read when my coworker had told me that he had suspected it was Lyme disease — the importance of getting Lyme disease treated as quickly as possible. If you wait, you risk paralysis of the facial muscles, and that can lead to speech problems that occur years after the original infection.
What can you do to prevent these horrible long term consequences from occurring? If you are in a possible zone for getting infected through a tick bite, check yourself daily for not just the bullseye anywhere around on your person, check yourself for flu-like symptoms and a feeling of weakness. If you feel at all sick in this way get yourself to a doctor and ask to get checked for Lyme Disease. It’s better to have a few days of discomfort and taking medication than years of suffering.