Friday, October 05, 2012
Over the past couple of weeks, I have encountered several people (IRL and here on SP) who have contracted Lyme disease. After hearing (or reading) their stories and prolonged sufferings, I must say that I am feeling pretty lucky.
You see, 7 years ago, I contracted Lyme disease. Sometime in early July of 2005, I discovered a bite on my leg. It looked like a spider bite (red and raised a bit). But it didn't itch (for me, spider bites usually itch like crazy). Normally, I wouldn't have thought much of it, but I was pregnant with my twins at the time and a little paranoid, having lost my firtborn son just 9 months earlier. So I decided to have it checked out. I asked a family member about it (who is a doctor), but he didn't see anything strange. Still worried, I asked my OB/GYN about my bite when I saw her later that week, and she also didn't see anything that triggered her alarms, but, knowing my past, she recommended that I make an appointment with a dermatologist. So I tried.
Have I mentioned I live in the NYC metro area? Trying to see a dermatologist in a timely manner is akin to winning the Alaskan Iditarod, without dogs. Everyone and their pet cockroach has a mole that needs removing. But I digress...
I was unable to get an appointment to see a reputable dermatologist until September, despite telling the receptionist that not only did I have a strange looking insect bite, but that I was a high risk patient pregnant with twins. Still...nothing.
A month later, my husband and I went on vacation to Canada. We stayed at my relative's cottage in Ontario and were there alone for the first time in my life. I've been going up to this place since I was a yearling, but never ever was able to be up there alone without my grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts or parents. This was a huge deal. So I was really looking forward to the vacation. I even invited my best friend up to visit, and he came up a few days after we arrived.
Then I started to feel sick. My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, except that I was wicked tired the whole first trimester. But I began to notice that my heart was acting wonky. My heart rate would flare up for no reason whatsoever. I chalked it up to being pregnant with twins, as I often had weird but fleeting pregnancy symptoms.
Finally, I woke up one day, after a good night's rest, to my heart practically beating out of my chest. I knew this was wrong, so I told my husband to drive me to the local hospital (about 20 miles away). I got there and spoke to the doctor on call in the ER about my heart rate. Then I told him about my strange bug bite.
Let's just say the next few hours were very, very crazy. My doctor, after looking at my bug bite, reviewing my EKGs and my history, began to ask me questions related to my bug bite. Was it a tick? I said that I never saw the insect that bit me, and I suspected a spider. There was no tell-tale bullseye rash. He ended up talking to the Canadian version of the CDC (center for disease control) in Ottawa, as well as a cardiac specialist and an OB. He came back later that day and asked me if it was possible that I had been bitten by a tick. I said yes.
Panic ensued. Not because they didn't know how to treat me, but because I was the first documented case of Lyme disease in Ontario (apparently the Ottawa river is so wide/rough that the deer and other animals that can carry the ticks cannot get across it). I reassured the doctors that I had been bitten in NY (but still had a LOT of paperwork to fill out).
So, I had Lyme disease and was pregnant with twins. I was really, really worried that the drugs that would help me would hurt my babies. I had already been through the death of my firstborn and come hell or highwater, I wasn't about to lose these kids, too. But I was so, so, so lucky. The drug most often prescribed for Lyme disease is an oral penicillin analog, doxycyclin. But that is not safe for a fetus. So, my awesome Canadian doctors prescribed a drug that was safe for my little dudes (obviously, or they wouldn't be here now), ceftriaxone. After the very first dose (via iv), I felt better and my heart rate reverted to normal. I was discharged after 3 days in the hospital, but had to come back in for a 1-hour iv infusion of ceftrriaxone for the rest of the week.
It did the trick and my twins are now nearly 7 years old and totally healthy. I'm hoping that perhaps they have an immunity to Lyme disease due to their exposure in utero, but I have no proof.
So, that's my Lyme story.