Monday, 17 October 2016

ticked off

Lyme Disease round two.

The photos are from a delightful run Mary and I had on Sunday when the weather did that utterly spectacular thing it can do maybe once in a year when a combination of low wind, high swell and cloudless sky produce a blissful landscape in which to bask. The text is mostly about my current health issue and why I have been feeling a bit low of late. 

It must have started well over a couple of weeks ago. First of October and the Equinox Run I remember chatting to Graham Nash after a tongue loosening pint as we were going up the first hill. He was asking how I was and I was saying I had health issues. Possibly just getting old but it felt like I had been bayoneted from behind and that running was preferable to sitting down. What was normally a manageable condition was recently getting out of hand.

Not a topic upon which to dwell, and I thought it just a passing vagary of getting old. Since then 2 weeks of working outdoors in cold weather and the mild terror of the hired scaffolding tower were presumably the reason I came home at nights feeling too tired to even think about running. When I went to bed I was asleep before my head hit the pillow and I would wake tired. However there was work to be done and, mostly, it all panned out fine.

I saw a random large dragonfly round here but just the one.
Mary was keen I didn't spend all day looking for more. 

After that job I did a lot of sleeping. In fact I missed club last Wednesday because the nap I started early afternoon didn't finish till 7pm. Just catching up, I thought. Although I was concerned, as the cross country season is fast approaching and a 38 mile race at the end of the month.

There is a large moon about, sweeping the tide far up the beach.

I nearly missed intervals on Thursday but feeling the slacker shame I forced myself out the door for what was a good tough headtorch session with the Thurs night crew at Holyrood. When I got home I felt lightheaded and it took a while to get my appetite back. On Friday I woke up with exactly the same symptoms – from the bayoneting to the extreme fatigue - as I had in July 2015 when I had a run in with Lyme Disease. It kind of made sense, although on this occasion I was not aware of being bitten by a tick and there was no Erythema Migrans – the distinctive bullseye rash that accompanies a large proportion of Lyme cases. The NHS website says “around one in three won't develop this rash.”

M was singing here.

I called my health clinic and asked to make an appointment. It was going to be a full week so they suggested the duty doctor speak to me and assess the situation. I wrote out the symptoms, so I didn't come across as a complete ninny, “I'm not feeling very well!” However this in itself is something of a pitfall as most of the symptoms, being tired, being achy, sore joints, headache, mild sore throat, loss of appetite, are identical to flu. The woman doctor who phoned me up was reading from a print out and asked had I seen the tick bite – no. Did I have the distinctive Erythema Migrans – no. “Well”, says she “we can't just have you coming in here every year asking for antibiotics...” She didn't finish the sentence but I knew she meant “when you only have flu.” I told her I hadn't been in contact with anyone who had flu, and that it was exactly the same feeling and symptoms as July 2015.

I got short shrift and can only imagine the doctor hadn't got to the bottom of the print out where it says possible outcomes if untreated: from chronic fatigue syndrome to problems affecting the nervous system, heart problems, meningitis and ultimately, death. So really, it's not a situation to be taken lightly. Rather, she was prepared to take it lightly, I wasn't.

Mary took this photo on her new wp camera.

I was hurried off the phone slightly gobsmacked and confused that such a potentially dangerous condition should be dismissed as flu, which presumably makes me a hypochondriac and malingerer. Which I resent. I have been to the doctor twice in the last 30 years. Once was to get a certificate of fitness to run the Everest Marathon, (ie not actually ill) and the other time was July 2015 when I wasn't sure but thought I might have Lyme Disease. The doctor concurred even though I didn't have Erythema Migrans; realising the possibility of it going untreated was far worse than handing out 2 weeks of Doxycycline – which is not even a recreational drug; not something you would fake symptoms in order to get.

I'm sure the doctor I spoke to was just hacked off with all the grumbling flu cases she sees day after day and thought I was another, though she did nothing to enquire about lifestyle and had her mind made up almost as soon as I said I didn't have any bite or rash to show. Another symptom of the condition is a fuzzy head – makes you a bit less on the ball. I just didn't relish an argument or think to say the symptoms had been gaining ground for a fortnight – way longer than flu. That only occurred later the same day when I remembered talking to Graham about my sore arse. (Technically, GI tract issues. Which don't come under the usual list of symptoms for Lyme Borreliosis but are quite widespread anecdotally on Lyme Disease websites and chat boards.)

someone lost their map

The thought of feeling this bad for another week till I phoned up the doctor again, and letting the disease get further foothold was extremely unpalatable; “More serious symptoms may develop several weeks, months or even years later if Lyme disease is left untreated or is not treated early on” That from the NHS website.

Challenger ATR (2s), had many pairs of these.
Colour a bit dodge.

I don't have any evidence of being bitten but I am in a likely environment nearly every weekend. It may well have been Sandwood Bay, the Tentsmuir trip on the 22nd Sept, or down at Gullane virtually any weekend before or after. The symptoms crept in slowly, and do mostly resemble manflu (plus knifing.). It would be easy to not recognise the seriousness of the situation. Or just ignore it. Except I feel awful and about 15~20 years more decrepit. Friday and my only thing to do (I am between jobs) was to get a haircut 100 yards round the corner. That proved too hectic a schedule and instead I went to bed and woke up after closing time. Monday and I have failed again, although I did get out to the Post Office to collect my illicit drugs...

So immediately after the Doctor phone-call I went online and googled how to buy Doxycycline. At least one site was prepared to sell it to me as an antimalarial tablet. I bought a similar amount to the last time I was prescribed some; 100mg twice a day for a fortnight and they arrived today, Monday. About £20, but it could be a life saver. And the number of tablets that arrived: 37. What is that about? Has the drugs underworld gone all prime numbery? Just realised it is for going to a "malarious area" and they anticipate you will take one for 2 days before your 7 day holiday and then for 28 days later, like the film. = 37. I was reassured when they arrived with description and official blister pack and not just a handfull of grubby capsules in a plain brown envelope, and only mildly disappointed I am not instantly better 6 hrs after taking the first hit. Hopefully it is the start of the road back.

Sunday's run was so pleasing it flushed the bad vibes out at least for a couple of hours.


  1. I do hope you recover for your next big run, I hope you get better as soon as possible! R & R I think!

  2. Would it have helped to phone back a different doc and be clear that you run in tick areas several times a week? I ended up with 3 of the b****rds after a recent trip to Peanmeanach!

  3. thanks!
    me too Hamish.

    Always worth checking for ticks Fiona. My eyesight isn't great - may have to take reading glasses for longer runs.

  4. Some fabulous photos Peter; Hope you recover quickly. My best friend is a long time sufferer from Lyme disease >30 yrs and it is no fun at all