Lyme Disease is Ticking Me Off

On May 31st I sat in an Emergency Room staring at a doctor as she told me I had Lyme Disease. “Shit,” I thought, “Shit, shit shit. Now what? ”

I’ll rewind and do my best to tell my Lymey story.

It was a several weeks ago when I noticed I was starting to feel weighted.  My energy was being zapped right out of me with every step I took. I talked myself through much of it, assuming that it was mostly mental- sometimes you just get tired when you’re hiking every day. Even with all the self patting-of-the-back I continued to decline.  The ends of my days became alarmingly tiredsome, and my muscles had become increasingly sore. But, these are all things that can happen when you are constantly hiking, and so I shrugged them off as just that.

Then I was strolling along one day when I felt irritation on my right side.  I kept asking Seamster to scratch it for me while we were hiking.  I shrugged this off as well, being that I am prone to mosquito bites and have sensitive skin.  As the days went on the irritation increased.  I noticed a small, red spot develop. My pack-strap runs right over it, so I assumed it might be irritating or chaffing the area. Then came time to hike into Waynesboro where we had planned a zero before entering the Shenandoah National Park.

By this time my little rash was starting to feel much more painful and itchy, the pain had spread well beyond the red area of skin. This is when I began to worry.  Seamster and I spent the day doing chores (laundry, eating, resupplying, eating, planning, having a few beers), all the while scowering the interwebs for information on rashes and bug bites.  That night ended up taking a sour turn, Seamster got food poisoning (or Giardia?) so another zero was in order. I figured I might as well go to the urgent care clinic while we were in town.  There, they told me I had Cellulitis, put me on two different antibiotics and sent me on my merry way into the Shenendoahs.

We had planned a stretch of long days, but my rash would not permit us to do so.  Over the course of four days, we hiked only 32 miles.  My rash continued to worsen along with my muscle soreness and general weakness. Small headaches started coming and going. This is when I began to realize that all the symptoms might be related.  With significant lack of energy, I had to take breaks far more often, and I would break into sweats randomly.  With our days cut significantly shorter, I thought I was getting the rest I needed, as well as giving my antibiotics time to kick in. The rash kept getting bigger and bigger, becoming similar to a Bull’s Eye. After continuous and lengthy breaks throughout Day 4 of Antibiotics, we decided a visit to the ER was in order. So we made it to a road (luckily the AT crosses through the Skyline road many, many times throughout the length of the park), made a sign and anxiously stuck our thumbs out. It took only about half an hour to get picked up, and the sweet couple took us right up to the ER’s entrance. We were back in Waynesboro, neither of us was thrilled about it.



Our awesome hitch hosts.


The lighting makes this look much less red than it was.

There I was rather quickly diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I am now on a new set of very strong antibiotics that go by the name of Doxycycline.  It is a 21 Day regimen, morning and night. They happen to make me awfully sick to the stomach, but thanks again to one angelic Trail Angel, I have some medicine that helps me at least keep the antibiotics down. The doc also told me to take Probiotics with the meds, they help my stomach feel not-as-crappy-as-possible throughout the day. Many thanks to pretty much the best trail angel ever for taking care of me while in Waynesboro. This lass deserves the world for all of her incredible kindness to any person she meets. Thanks to the truly angelic Miss Willow I had a place to rest, dogs to hang out with, a shoulder to cry on,  and almond butter to munch on. Willow went above and beyond to help us out in far more ways than I am listing out. She has truly saved my ass, and I shall always be indescribably grateful, and am very glad to have made a new and wonderful friend.


Willow and Pittie-Puppy Max


Miss Piper. Fact: Dogs are better than almost everything ever and thus help me feel better.

After the day of rest, we were dropped back off at the trail. I quickly found out that Lyme Disease and its shitty symptoms don’t just go away in a day or two, even with antibiotics and rest. We hiked slowly for the next few days, and only did short days with a zero-in-tent on account of just not having any energy whatsoever.

After three days and some research on how long it might take to start feeling better, we ended up deciding to do a flip-flop. The Shenandoahs have a nice grade, but the rules for camping in the park are strict, and designated camp spots/huts are too far apart for me right now.

Long story shortened down: we went on a hitchhiking adventure northwards and ended up doing work for stay at Stoney Brook Farm near Harper’s Ferry. Their hospitality was just what sick ole’ me needed, and their fresh fruits and vegetables were the first thing to feel good in my stomach since starting my antibiotic regimen. I think I’m starting to get a little bit of my appetite back, thanks Stoney Brook! Most everyone there was very kind and helpful; I am grateful to have learned so much from a hard working community.  I got to get my hands in some soil and do some weeding in the green house, and then I got to hang out with goats galore, a baby calf, two donkeys, sheep, sooo many chickens and turkeys, and I finally got to learn how to milk a cow. Thanks Buttercup, for letting me squeeze your utters and use your fresh, unadulterated milk.


Fernando, one of our awesome rides up to the farm.


Just milking a cow.


Goats and Sheep!

So now we are about to hike Southbound back to the Shenendoahs, hopefully my strength will come back and we can start hiking our normal pace soon. Hopefully my appetite will continue to grow, and hopefully this whole Lyme Disease business will leave me the hell alone. Then the plan is to hitch hike back to Harper’s Ferry again and continue northbound. Fuck yeah, adventure ain’t much unless you got some bumps in the road.

Also, we’ve had to say so long to our plan/dream of running our first marathon while on our hike, the 1/2 Saur 1/2 Kraut Marathon in Philadelphia on June 12th. With everything going on, we have in no way been able to stick to our schedule, and it makes no logistic sense to go out of our way to pay for bus tickets so that Seamster can run it along. This is a big let down for the both of us, and on top of that we cannot get a refund. So there goes $180, thanks again Lyme Disease. Anyone want to go in our place? There’s yummy German food and beer at the end. You could wear lederhosen and run around for chrissake!

So here’s how my days go: wake up, try to eat, take anti-nausea medication, wait 30 minutes, take antibiotics, wait 2 hours, take probiotic, deal with flu like symptoms throughout the day and basic general ickyness, then repeat medication routine after dinner. Not too fun, but not too bad, but still pretty shitty.

Check yourselves for ticks, y’all! Those tiny little bastards ain’t nothing to mess around with.


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Comments 2

  • zrdavis : Jun 7th

    Sweet shit, Button. I’m so sorry to read about this. BUT if you started taking the antibiotic while you were still displaying the rash, I’d be very surprised if you don’t make a full recovery- and sooner vs. later. One piece of advice, stick with the probiotics even after you’re done with the doxycycline. The antibiotics can do a number on your gut and a healthy blend of probiotics (and prebiotics) will help.

    Stay strong.

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