8-year-old Louis S was bitten by a tick in late 2007 but not diagnosed with Lyme disease until a year later. Like many patients, he never had the distinctive bullseye rash and it took months of suffering through fever, fatigue, and joint pain before he was tested and diagnosed, at which point the illness had become quite debilitating. He shares his story here.
The Lyme saga started in December of 2007 when we got our puppy. I was 8 and we lived in Woodside, CA. We didn’t know much about the woods and the ticks in them. I would roll in the leaves while playing with my puppy. She was a tick magnet.
It wasn’t long before I had a tick on me. It was on my lower abdomen. I think I got it from walking into some bushes to see what my puppy was sniffing. I found the tick about half an hour after being outside. My mom pulled it off of me, not using tweezers. The next day I had a bar shaped rash. But it wasn’t a bull’s-eye that is so often connected with Lyme, so we weren’t concerned about it. I did get the flu shortly after. Probably it was early onset Lyme disease.
In February, I started having real trouble with exhaustion and joint pain. At one point I could not walk and had to crawl. I had dizziness too and trouble thinking in class. My mom took me to the pediatrician. He insisted it wasn’t Lyme disease because there had been no bull’s-eye rash and the tick had been on for less than an hour. He started checking me for other things like adenoid problems but never Lyme. My mom kept asking about it because I had been bitten by a tick. No he said, it was not Lyme. So, we went home.
And I got sicker. My mom read about Lyme symptoms online and became certain that was the problem. She found a doctor who treated a lot of Lyme disease in this area. By the time we visited her I was so sick she rushed me in for an appointment. There were times when I could not walk and had to crawl to the bathroom or anywhere else. I was miserable.
This doctor did a clinical examination and she was sure it was Lyme. She also ordered blood work and that showed it was Lyme plus 3 co-infections. I was positive at levels high enough to report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC).
From there a long cycle of treatment began. Half the time it felt like the pills were making it worse not better. In the beginning, I had strong reactions and had to be rushed in for appointments . I needed my blood checked every two weeks and I hate needles. It was tough, but after about nine months I was somewhat functional at school. After a year and a half, I was completely well and since 2010 haven’t had any symptoms.
My mom says she remembers the day my personality came back. I had been so sick that I disappeared for a while. In April of 2011, I qualified for the State Finals of the Geography Bee. It was then that I knew my mind was going to be okay.
Read more about Louis and other patients on our Lyme Disease Stories page.