The short answer: a lot.
You might call it Revenge of the Deer. Last November, while I was out hunting with my friend Tony, I was bitten by a tick. I didn’t realize it for a few days. In fact, I never saw the tick at all. I was out running a couple days later and was surprised at how tired I felt. I had to stop two or three times during a 5K, which is something I could normally do without even breaking a sweat. I figured I was coming down with the flu. At the same time, I had developed a sore spot on my leg, but I ignored it, because… I’m an idiot, I guess.
That morning I mentioned this unfortunate confluence of events to my wife: got flu, leg hurts. Immediately, she put it together. Only then did I bother to actually look at my leg. There was a definite bull’s-eye. This developed very quickly into a staph infection. I’ve got a picture of it here if you want to see it, but be warned–it’s kinda nasty.
It’s hard to say which was more difficult: the Lyme disease, or the twin blast of antibiotics I had to take. I was as helpless as a baby for weeks. I did not even have the strength to carry the garbage down to the end of the driveway on garbage day. My hands shook uncontrollably when I was tired. I had weird dreams. I walked like a man twice my age. Everything about it sucked.
This went on until about January. Gradually I began to get my strength back. I was able to shovel snow again–a good thing, since we had so much of it. But I would have to sleep afterwards. I was in bed by nine or nine-thirty PM every night for months.
I was in excellent condition when I got sick last year. Not long before, I had run a half-marathon. Even so, all this time later, I’m still feeling the effects of it. Today was the first day I was able to do something I took for granted for the past few years: to run a 5K without stopping to rest. I was still pretty slow, but it felt fantastic.
I don’t like to complain, but it’s my blog, so I guess I can if I feel like it. Last winter was the worst winter I’ve ever experienced. The Lyme was just part of it. We got an insane amount of snow here in Nova Scotia–well over six feet. On top of that, my daughter, aged nine, became very ill with appendicitis, which wasn’t diagnosed until it was very nearly too late. She was in the hospital for almost a month. And at the same time, we had to put our beloved dog, Bella, to sleep. After she gave us fifteen years of unconditional love, this felt like a betrayal. But our vet explained it well: a dignified, merciful death was the last gift we could give her. Otherwise, she would have suffered for weeks or months. I hope someone does that for me when the time comes.
There are a lot of people who get Lyme disease and don’t have it properly diagnosed for months or years. I couldn’t imagine living like that. I think the government of Nova Scotia ought to be doing much more than it is to prevent the spread and to treat the infected. I live in a Lyme hot spot. It’s epidemic around here. I dread getting it again, although I’m not sure if that’s possible. I’ve tried to find out, but I haven’t had much luck. Very little seems to be known about Lyme disease.