So two weeks ago I wake at 3:30 am to make a 6 am flight out of Boston to RTP and in the grog-state of the shower I realize that something hurts in my right armpit. [It starts to get gross here, but bear with me] In my dark o’clock stupidity I keep showering and think, “My armpit hair is tangled.”
Right. Rocket scientist. So get out, dry off, head to the sink and decide to inspect. Aha. Little thing the size of sesame seed. I have a passenger.
Now what? First thought it get it off NOW!! I hate the creepy crawly — but I also know if I botch the removal I could aggravate the situation. The entire time the words “Lyme Disease” are rolling through my mind. Abnormally warm weather, beach walks with the dogs, one of which sleeps in bed next to me … This is not a common Wood Tick, this is the itty-bitty one (that’s a dime up there for size comparison), the kind that lead to a massive world of hurt if they leave behind their spirochete which sparks a nasty bout of neurological disease that, if undetected and treated, can literally ruin your life.
Richard Gerstner, brother of ex-IBM Chairman, Lou Gerstner, lost an equally promising career after his Lyme Disease went untreated. A lot of people in New England have suffered, and now it appears the little buggers have settled into Cotuit, if they haven’t been here for years already. Some places, like Naushon Island, are veritable Lyme Disease epicenters.
Anyway, back to the bathroom: so I grab a pair of tweezers, tug, tug harder, tug harder still, and bang, off it comes, saved in an envelope for future identification. This is bad, I think. And while waiting for a connection four hours later at JFK, I text message my college buddy the plastic surgeon for advice.
“WAIT TWO WEEKS. WATCH FOR RASH. THEN ANTIBIOTICS”
So, I calm down, my armpit hurts, and then this past week, right on schedule, I get a rash. A real doozy. Right on my face. Feels like someone took a belt sander to it. So, off to the Web for some self-diagnosis and yep, I have a case of Erythema migrans.
Back to my doctor buddy and I am on antibiotics for three weeks.
The Wikipedia yields this astonishing “fact”: Lyme Disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the United States. it’s in 49 states, so my initial thought that this was a southern New England phenomenon is dead wrong. The Wikipedia entry on the disease also indicates there is a big debate going on about how to treat it.
Let’s hope I caught it in time. And the dog will continue to sleep in the bed.