“It’s pretty indicative of Lyme Disease.”
Those are the words I heard this past Saturday that put me into a tailspin. Six days before, my daughter had come home from her grandparents with a tick on her shoulder. I pulled it off, cleaned it, didn’t think anything more about it. After all, I grew up on that farm and ticks were a yucky part of summer life. Dad used to light them with a match (like an idiot, I know).
And then a red rash started appearing around the bite. Still, I didn’t consider it serious because the tick wasn’t a deer tick, and I’d figured it was just a reaction. But by Saturday it was bigger and so my husband Googled (I could write a whole series of posts about the perils of medical Googling). The rash looks very much like the telltale “bulls-eye” rash that comes with Lyme Disease.
Impossible, I said. But I took her to urgent care anyway, where the doctor said the same thing. By then, I’d read all about the symptoms of Lyme and was in a near panic. Would my now healthy five-year-old have to suffer the rest of her life? I thought of all her potential and her bubbly personality, and my heart began to break. How much would this change her?
And was it my fault? Should I have brought her in immediately instead of waiting a week?
Naturally, getting a straight answer out of a doctor is impossible, since they have to worry about protecting themselves in this day and age. She did say that starting the treatment early enough was usually effective. But I couldn’t get her to tell me if a week was early enough. She kept talking in circles and pissing me off, considering we’d waited ninety minutes to see her. Finally, I flat-out asked if I’d waited too long, because she was making it sound like I had.
She became contrite and said no, she hadn’t meant that at all. She was referring to waiting until a blood test came back from the Mayo Clinic, which could take 5-7 days. Would be foolish to wait that long, she said.
Then why the hell couldn’t she say that the first time? I’m sitting there in near-tears, probably overreacting, and yet she’s got the compassion of a rock.
I realize doctors – especially urgent care docs – are overloaded and stressed, but guess what? So are the rest of us. I can’t imagine what it takes to deal with patients all day, but I do know that compassion and patience should be a course all medical professionals should take. Too many of them are in a constant hurry, making you feel like you’re wasting their precious time with every question you ask. They may be busy, but my medical premiums are paying their bills. The least they could do is act as though they give a damn.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve met some great doctors. My OB is fantastic, as is my daughter’s regular doctor. But they seem to be the exception to the rule.
Back to the Lyme Disease. After an excruciating experience with a needle, Grace’s blood was taken, and we were told to take the antibiotics for two weeks and then a follow-up would be needed, even if the test came back negative.
I spent the weekend feeling guilty and worrying. Lyme Disease is carried in deer ticks, right? That was NOT a deer tick. Was a plain old wood tick. I’d bet my life on that. But then I found out that research now shows wood ticks (aka American Dog Tick) may carry a form of Lyme Disease. But is it really possible that out of the tiny percentage that carry the disease the one that bit my daughter had it?
And then there’s the time the tick was attached to the body. If it’s less than 36 hours, infection is unlikely. Mom says it has to be because she had a shower Saturday night, and I found the tick Sunday evening. But couldn’t Mom have missed the tick?
You can probably tell by now I’m a first-class worrier.
The pharmacist was much more reassuring than the doctor. He said the chances of her having Lyme were slim, no matter how suspect the rash was. And if she did, the antibiotic would take care of it. It’s only the people who get bit and don’t know and go untreated for a long time that have problems.
Of course, there’s always those freak cases, and that’s what I can’t stop worrying about.
Yesterday the doctor’s office called and said the initial test was negative; mind you, they hadn’t even TOLD me there would be an initial test. Still, she’s to remain on antibodies because the Mayo test could show something different.
I’m trying to remain positive, because realistically, the chances ARE slim. But every time I look at that awful rash and realize how much it looks like the bulls-eye rash, I get scared and the what-ifs take control.
What if something happens to my daughter? She is literally our miracle, and I’m not sure I could survive it. With all the joys of being a parent, things like this are definitely the lows. No matter what you do to protect them, there’s always something waiting in the wings to cause trouble.
How do we manage? How do we allow our kids to grow up safe without smothering them and making them a frightened mess? My husband says kids need freedom, and I agree. But there’s always that nagging voice that asks: what if something happens to her, and I wasn’t there?
How do you deal with the inevitable crises that come when you have children? What do you do to thwart the worrying and panic?