Janine Randall recounts her terrifying tale of Lyme disease and how it's impacted her life.
"I had heard the warning reports about ticks and Lyme Disease but I didn't realize how close to home it would be for me. 8 years ago, I woke up one morning after a sleepless night to a very sore leg with an irregular pink ‘oblong’ on my inner thigh. It was a Sunday and in attempts to avoid going to the busy hospitals, I called my sister who was a nurse.
She immediately told me to head to the Emergency Room. Quickly, things turned for the worse. I began a raging fever, a pounding headache, and my joints were throbbing so badly that I could barely walk.
Upon assessment, the pinkness on my leg was considered a rash. The Doctor decided to treat me for Lyme anyways. I was told that the results from the blood test can take too long and are sometimes inaccurate. I was given antibiotics and hooked up to an IV. After 3 full hours, I began to feel better and after 6 was deemed well enough to go home.
However, "well-enough" meant having to take loads of oral medication followed by another two weeks of high fevers, join point, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.
Fast-forward to two years later...
I remember sitting in my yard reading a book on a beautiful summer day. Two days later, I found a round pink area on the left side near my armpit. Shortly after, the headaches began. Fearing the worst, I headed to the hospital. Again, I was treated for Lyme Disease and thankfully I had caught it early enough that the symptoms only lasted for 1 week this time.
Fast-forward to 3 years later...
I was showering when I felt something sticking out from my upper back. No matter how hard I tried, it would not wash off! After stepping out of the shower, I was horrified to find a dead tick still attached to my skin. I quickly removed the tick, put it in a bag, and headed to the hospital. This time, I was handed a Z-Pac of antibiotics and thankfully did not develop any symptoms.
Fast Forward to 2 years later...
My fourth and worst Lyme Disease encounter happened on July 1, 2017. I was moving furniture to our summer cabin in Canada. I had made the mistake of wearing sandals outside in the yard. Once we made it to Canada, we were planning to renovate our summerhouse. The entire month, my right knee was incredibly sore. By the time I returned home to Massachusetts, the pain was causing me to drag my entire leg behind me! My knee had blown up to the size of a basketball. Two weeks after I got home, I could no longer stand the pain and went to the hospital. They did a blood test and also concluded that I would need knee arthrocentesis (aspiration). I had the procedure and was fitted with a full leg brace, crutches, medication (for suspected Gout), and sent home.
However, every day I continued to feel more and more ill. The pain became excruciating. At the end of the week, I got a call from the hospital. The blood test came back and was positive for Lyme Disease. I had live Lyme bacteria in my synovial fluid. Needless to say, I was stunned. Lyme again?!
I had been hypersensitive to exposing myself to Lyme but here it was for the fourth time.
This time, not only did I experience all the symptoms of Lyme Disease but I had also developed Lyme Arthritis. I even developed a 'bakers cyst' and had to spend the entire month of September in bed. I was only able to get up to use the bathroom and even then, I had to use a walker.
I lost almost 15lbs and continued to have the Lyme symptoms long after the antibiotics were finished. I then found out that I had developed Lyme Refractory Arthritis, a disorder where your own antibodies attack your joint after the 'bad' bacteria is dead.
I had to have regular visits with a Rheumatologist. To easy the symptoms and pain I had to receive cortisone shots and was given a medication called Meloxicam (NSAID). Still, when being on my leg for too long, it will start to swell and the pain will increase. I still walk with a limp and can no longer go up and down the stairs normally. Long walks are very difficult and hills are nearly impossible. I even have to use a handicap placard for my car and often use a cane for stability.
This last bout of Lyme Disease came with no rash, no early symptoms, and basically no warning. I also have never had a bulls-eye rash in any of my episodes and in all my cases, the tick came from my backyard - not the woods.
I am telling my tale to help warn people about how dangerous ticks can be. Please be forewarned and take as many precautions as necessary. I like to tell people, treat it like going out in the sun. Prevent tick bites like you would sunburns. Now, every year I have my yard treated for ticks by FlyFoe and I am sure to wear clothing that is pre-treated with permethrin. I also make sure to spray permethrin on the bottom of my shoes before going outside."
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