She and her husband did not know Chester County Pennsylvania is targeted as one of the major deer tick infested areas in the United States. They did not know that deer ticks, the size of a poppy seed, are difficult to see or feel. They did not know that a deer tick bite is not always followed by a skin rash or bulls-eye target. They did not know Lyme disease is hard to diagnose because its symptoms mimic other human ailments and tests are not always conclusive. They did not know that untreated infection caused by a deer tick bite can wreak irreparable havoc on the human body and mind.
For over one month she struggled with devastating ailments and eventually excruciating muscle pain, before she was finally treated for the following symptoms of Lyme disease:
- She was fatigued
- She had red eyes – thought it was caused by prescribed eye drops
- She lost her appetite, lost weight and did not like or want anything to eat
- She was sleep deprived – napped repeatedly but it did not help
- She had painful swollen wrists and fingers – could not wear her rings and bracelets – thought it was arthritis
- She had excruciating pain in the back of her neck muscles and each side of her back muscles which migrated randomly to other muscles – her pain was so severe that she could not move or bear her muscles touched
Normally, a very busy, healthy, appreciated and loved lady, who had been declared cancer free after five years from her breast procedure and treatment. She served many volunteer endeavors as well as looked after herself, her husband, grown children, grand children and many friends, and as a non-complaining retired nurse, kept thinking with medications and rest she’d feel better. When the painful muscles symptom occurred, her husband and a friend had to pick her up and carry her to use the bathroom, and because she was in such agony she could not decide what to do next. They took her to the Emergency Room of the Christiana Care Hospital. She was treated in the Emergency Room for 24 hours and then five more days in a hospital room. Six different doctors individually asked her if she had been in the woods, bitten by a tick or had a telltale rash or bulls-eye on her skin. She answered no. Pain medications which she desperately needed and appreciated were provided, but they were unable to diagnose or treat her for an infection indicated by her blood tests. She was told what she did not have, but not what she did have while the excruciating muscle pain and other symptoms mercilessly persisted. The doctors and nurses tried to help her, but to no avail.
In desperation, her husband called their daughter, a knowledgeable Registered Nurse with credible hospital, home health care, hospice and medical insurance company experience. When asked what her mother’s symptoms were, he told her, and she said, “Dad, Mom has Lyme disease”. He quickly relayed this information to her hospitalist physician, who ordered a Western Blog for Lyme disease, but which is often the case, her’s did not test positively. Her husband then phoned her primary physician, told him the symptoms, and he agreed to meet her at the skilled nursing unit where they live at Jenner’s Pond PA. Her primary physician came on a Sunday morning, noted that her face showed that she was going through terrible pain, reviewed her symptoms, examined her and prescribed doxycycline, the antibiotic used to treat the infection caused by Lyme disease. Since that day although she has not gotten completely better yet, she continues to improve. Her quick wit and smile, as you can see in the attached picture which was taken before this ordeal, is beginning to return.
She may still have to deal with some long-term effects of the Lyme infection, we’re not sure, but if needed there are other antibiotics which can be used to complement doxycycline. Her primary doctor will be following her progress until she’s safely over Lyme disease. Patients sometimes even have to take low dosages of antibiotics for the rest of their life when the Lyme infection keeps recurring in what appears as a facial stroke or loss of mental abilities. We’re hoping and praying for her complete recovery without any debilitating or lasting effects.
Her Lyme symptoms were made public in this post because, without wearing long lasting protection spray, a deer tick may bite anyone, anytime almost anywhere out-of-doors in Chester County Pennsylvania or in the surrounding geographic areas of Delaware or the Eastern Shore of Maryland. And even though this information is limited to only one deer tick harmed lady and each deer tick bitten person is uniquely affected and will have different symptoms, it may help other unsuspecting deer tick bitten persons to understand the need to be alert, look for Lyme disease symptoms and find a medical doctor, who will knowledgeably, willingly, quickly, and courageously provide a timely Lyme disease treatment.