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Help Stop Lyme

Updated on April 8, 2021

My Struggle with Lyme

July 9, 2012 changed my life. Place - Small pond behind a Publix in Orlando Florida. This is my story:

I had spent years in Northern Ontario enjoying the outdoors always cautious of the mosquitos and never really giving any thought to ticks. From what I had heard ticks were only a problem if you went hunting and I was only a fisher.

However, my life changed when I went to Orlando Florida in July 2012. We were attending a conference and later one evening we decided to sneak down to the pond behind the Publix store. It was only a small pond that seemed to be surrounded by homes and looked inviting to go and try some bass fishing. The time was 7.30 pm and it was just starting to get to be dusk. My husband caught a fish and I decided to walk over to where he was proudly holding his catch.

On my way through the knee high brush I thought that I had walked into a thorn bush. I felt a sudden quick jab in my lower left leg so I stopped and reached down to remove the thorn. Although I saw what looked like a small dark thorn I removed it. Not realizing that I actually did not get the whole thorn because it turned out that it was actually a tick and its head was still embedded in my leg.

We continued on fishing for another hour and headed back to the hotel. I could see something still in my leg but thought it would work itself out. I still believed that it was only a thorn so I was not overly concerned after all a tick was not even a consideration to me since we were fishing not hunting. Three days later the illness took hold. A fever was present and continued to be present for twelve days. My body ached and my leg felt like it was on fire. I lost my voice and thought I had a cold and flu. I went to the doctors and he felt that it was only the flu and it would go away. However this was not the case. It was July 13 when the illness began and September 7th after a summer of sleeping that again the doctor did not know what to do. I had been there numerous times and treated with antibiotics. This time I was told by the doctor that the medication I was being given would get rid of it in 2 days otherwise if I had a fever over 101 to head to the hospital.

September 9, 2012 I was admitted into the hospital with Sepsis Meningitis after the fever would not go down. For 9 days I was administered high doses through intravenous of antibiotics to try and save my life. I went through extensive testing for every kind of disease possible. They ruled out West Nile and also ruled out Lyme’s Disease because the test came back negative. However, this was going to change. Thirty days later I was contacted by the health department and informed that I actually had a positive test for Lyme’s but they felt it was a false positive.

I continued to be ill after being released from the hospital. Months went by and the fever would last for a couple days at a time. However the fever remained strong for 4 days and on December 19 I was back in the hospital. My body felt like it was in pain but it was a pain that was moving all over my body. My small toe would hurt and then my arm, leg, back, shoulder it was moving around and changing places daily. I felt like I was going crazy. I was so tired of saying the words “I don’t feel well!” What was wrong with me? I already ruled out West Nile and Lyme’s so what was going on? That is when the doctor told me that actually the first test that they did for Lyme’s came back negative only because of all the medication I had taken. Unfortunately when they look at the history and current condition they realize that indeed Lyme’s was the problem.

I was devastated as I had a friend Glenda that was an avid hunter and fisher and she had passed away from complications to the disease. Was I now going to die? I went into denial with the disease for a couple months. I didn’t want to admit that I was still getting fevers and pain as I just wanted it to go away and was hopeful that it would.

I was the advocate for take your kids out fishing and get them into the outdoors. I ran two websites and to educate and inspire others to head to the lake or waterways around them. Take your family and create memories and now I am having to rethinking that message.

More than anything I struggled with how I tell my family and friends that this great passion of mine could actually kill me. The fear was something that I held inside and when I heard of others that were struggling like I was then I realized it was time to step up and get the message out.

Lyme’s is preventable. Staying in a bubble and thinking that it can’t happen to you or one of your kids is not realistic. I was not in Northern Ontario or India I was in Orlando Florida in a housing community that has a small pond that everyone gets to enjoy. This was not a wild forest or an area that was only trafficked by wild animals this was suburbia.

Education is mandatory when danger surrounds. We can make a difference to the new victims that will be part of this disease by sharing and discussing what is working and what does not. Please join us in making sure that your visit to the outdoors is a safe one.

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