Tag Archives: Paula Weintraub

Infected

C at Great Falls

Staying on boardwalk trails at Great Falls National Park in Virginia.

 

I’ve been thinking about the day I went hiking in a gorgeous old chestnut forest in Southern Maryland that is protected by a local land trust. Volunteers keep the trails beautifully manicured, with small limbs trimmed back and mulch on the paths.

This was my first long walk in years; treatment had finally gotten me to a  place where I figured I could handle it without crashing.

I felt I was relatively safe from ticks there, keeping out of underbrush, not brushing up agains branches. My boots and clothes were treated with bug-killing permethrin. I really looked forward to rambling about for an hour or so of fresh air, soaring trees, and bird song. Judging from the way he pranced along, my dog Mo was pretty excited, too.

IMG_5855

When I got home I did all the necessary things: Stripped, threw everything in the dryer on hot for 20  minutes to kill any ticks, took a shower, washed and dried my hair, checked my body.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I found a tick sucking on my leg. Who knows where it came from. Perhaps from Mo; my vet tells me no tick-killing products for pets are 100% effective.

It’s a myth that it takes at least 48 hours to become infected—more like a matter of hours. So I knew enough to call my Lyme doctor, who immediately increased my antibiotics (I was recovering from a tick bite more than two years before and still on meds). But it was already too late.  Continue reading

My Brain on Lyme

Lame brain, Jello brain... lyme brain. Credit: skpy's Flickr stream

Lame brain, Jello brain… Lyme brain.
Credit: skpy’s Flickr stream

There was a time when I thought Lyme disease meant a fever with other flu-like symptoms and a bull’s-eye rash lasting maybe a few weeks. Even when I read that these infections can cause problems with cognition, I didn’t really get it.

Early on as my mind faltered, I thought, “Damn, it’s really happening, I’m getting older and my brain just isn’t working like it used to.” Then I figured, “Wow, the pain and fatigue from this illness are really affecting my ability to think.”

My teenaged son would look at me like I was crazy when I’d forget something we were supposed to do together. I took him to the dentist on the wrong day, even though I looked at the appointment right there on the kitchen calendar a dozen times. On some days, my brain just could not take in information correctly.

I’d blank out on the names of long-time colleagues, or struggle to put together copy for an assignment that should have been easy after many years of writing professionally.

I’d turned 50. I thought the trouble was aging. Turns out it was my brain on Lyme. Continue reading