Monday, August 15, 2011

Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

We made it home late Saturday evening from our week long vacation in Muskoka, Ontario. I went to Lake Muskoka for the first time with my soon-to-be husband in 2001. His family has been going there for years and it didn't take much for me, too, to fall in love with the area. In 2009, married and with two youngsters, we returned to Muskoka for a seven day vacation. When I left in 2009, my life was forever turned upside down by Lyme disease.

I often find myself wondering which came first--the chicken or the egg? Did I already unknowingly have Lyme disease when I went on my trip or did I contract it in Canada? I never saw a tick on me, but I never checked. And considering only 50% of people ever recall a tick bite, that complicates things a bit.

I know this much is true: My mother found a tick crawling on her when she was pregnant with me. She found a very engorged tick behind my ear when I was a child. I had another tick bite in 2001, after which I now know I contracted at least babesiosis.  In June of 2009, I was in a very traumatic car accident in which I flipped our car. I now know that Lyme disease can lie dormant in your body and that the stress of a car accident can bring it out of dormancy. The chicken or the egg...

A few days into the trip to Canada in August 2009, two months after my car accident, I got an intensely itchy rash under both of my armpits. Was that the sign that I had just contracted Lyme disease? Or perhaps that was the moment I contracted one or more of my other tick-borne diseases, since tests have revealed that I have several, and not just Lyme disease.

Was it the mosquitoes? Was it the trip to a mini-golf course where I sat on the rock walls under the trees while I waited my turn--an area that would have been paradise for hungry ticks? I went downhill quickly after the rash. One symptom turned into 70+ over the next few months. I blamed Canada. I blamed Muskoka. I blamed that damn mini-golf course. (An additional slap in the face was the fact that I came in last place during that mini-golf game--losing even to my six year old son.)

Needless to say, going back to the same area where it was highly possible that I contracted Lyme disease was quite frightening. But I've had two years to mull over the facts. I know that I've had symptoms of Lyme disease since I was quite young. I know that you can have Lyme disease and not be disabled from it, and that it can also go into dormancy. I know that my car wreck was very traumatic. I know that I ate a lot of sugar on my trip to Canada in 2009 and it's highly possible that my body, already weakened from the stress of my car wreck, was extra susceptible to candida--which could have accounted for the reason for my downward spiral after the rash.

When we arrived at our cottage last week, I was very scared. There were trees, tall grass and wildlife all around us. Our silly new friend "Chippy" the Chipmunk greeted us at the window several times a day--quite a treat if you don't know much about Lyme disease, but for those of us with The Fear, we know that cute little animals just like Chippy carry ticks and drop off the tiny hitchhikers a little too close for comfort. The fear of being rebitten is a constant threat.

When we planned this trip at the beginning of the year, I couldn't imagine that I would be well enough to go. The thought of enduring an 11+ hour car trip seemed like a cruel joke, since simply riding in a car across town was often too much for my weak body. It was in March of this year that my doctor struck gold with the medicine that would give me my life back, and I thought--really thought--about the reality of setting foot back in the place where my life fell apart.

The thing is, this trip was a huge triumph for me. My body was able to handle a very long car trip. I was able to function all week. I was just like all the other happy vacationers without a care in the world. This trip was like finding my way home. It was my victory over being almost completely housebound for months on end. This was my victory over all the things Lyme disease took away from me. It was like finding the missing puzzle piece under the couch and being able to finally put in the last piece. I feel like I've come full circle now.

Lyme disease 4,000,000/ Alyson 4,000,0001. Yeah!!!
PS I still lost at mini-golf this time, even to my now-eight-year-old son. However, I did manage to beat my three year old, but only barely. I also managed a hole in one....except it was not the hole we were on. Ooops.


  1. This is such good news, Alyson. So happy for have come back so quickly in our eyes...but I am sure it is not how it feels to you! I totally understand the fear of going where ticks roam...I hardly walk in my own yard!

  2. I'm so proud of you! I am terrified to go in my BACKYARD! LOL. It is no way to live. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Alyson,

    I just recently started reading your blog and I was looking forward to reading a post after your vacation. I am so glad it went well and that you feel you have come full circle. You have been an encouragement to me. Blessings to you.