I have spent most of my life in the great outdoors and have on many occasion removed ticks from various parts of my anatomy. Sometimes I have removed up to 10 at a time and never thought about the dangers associated with tick bites.
I clearly remember nearly two years ago having a tick bite that was different. It was attached to my right leg and it quickly became red and swollen with a strange rash. Over a period of a few days I developed flu like symptoms and became rather unwell with a fever and headaches. I never associated this with the tick bite and after a week or so the swelling in my leg went down and I felt better.
A few months passed and I started having bouts of sleeplessness, fever, hot joints and had bouts of extreme tiredness. I did see a doctor but he said it was probably a virus and would go away. It did after a few weeks and I felt normal again.
Another few months passed and I developed muscle spasms, cramps, muscle twitching and felt generally tired and unwell. I did return to the doctor and he said it was probably a virus or I was overdoing it! He advised me to take it easy for a while. Sure enough after a month the symptoms nearly disappeared apart from the muscle twitching. All the voluntary muscles in my body twitched at various stages throughout the day. They were clearly visible and quite alarming so I returned to the doctor who carried out routine blood tests . These all came back negative!
Over the next few months the symptoms got worse and I also developed sensitivity to temperature and sound and had bouts of tinnitus (ringing in ears). I returned to the doctor who was worried it might be a major neurological disease . I spent 6 weeks waiting on an appointment convinced I had Motor Neurone Disease or Myasthenia Gravis or something similar. Trying to self diagnose yourself on the internet is a really bad idea and not advised for your sanity!!!!
I eventually seen a neurologist who was concerned with the amount of muscle fasciculationís (twitching) in my body combined with general fatigue and weakness. He sent me for further tests (nerve conduction) that confirmed I did have severe muscle fasciculationís and general weakness but there was no muscle wasting that would indicate one of the major neurological diseases. He informed me that it could have been triggered by a virus and would probably go away in time!
A few months passed and I did start to feel a bit better but one day I became very ill with a headache and high temperature and was rushed to hospital. I was given a lumbar puncture and told that it was viral meningitis. I was discharged feeling better after a few days .
Over the following months I had bouts of feeling generally unwell and was still concerned enough to return to the doctor and ask for a second neurological opinion. This happened within 6 weeks and his opinion pretty much reflected the first one!!! He gave me a diagnosis of Myokymia (benign muscle twitching) that would go away through time!
The only thing keeping me sane was my canoeing and I enjoyed every paddle and hoped it would not be my last!.
Not long after the first Tweed trip that I posted on the forum I experienced breathing difficulties and was rushed into hospital and was screened for the usual illnesses that would cause this symptom. Sure enough after a few days monitoring I was discharged from hospital leaving a few doctors puzzled.
Another stage of general wellness passed and I spent most weekends paddling away. This was short lived and I became very ill with really bad muscle twitching, disruptive sleep, fatigue, weakness, tightness in the chest, muscle pain, Carprial tunnel syndrome, tinnitus, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, sore neck and joints and a few more to mention. So I returned to the doctor and by luck my normal GP was off so I saw a new doctor who looked at my case notes and history and asked me ďhave you been tested for Lyme diseaseĒ . Thank the gods of paddling I went to the surgery that day!!!
There are only a few people in the country that specialise in Lyme disease and I have just recently returned from seeing one and started long term treatment.
Here is a few facts:
- Most people who develop Lyme disease donít remember the bite or a rash
- Most tick bites are harmless but some ticks carry the Lyme Borreliosis which causes Lyme disease.
- There is one main test carried out in the UK (Western Blot Test) to detect Lyme disease but its not very reliable .
- There are 2000 new cases diagnosed in the UK every year and Lyme disease is on the increase and there is thought to be twice as many more undetected.