I’m 34 years old, and have always been active with hiking, running, and walking. My husband, Matt, and I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old son, and our greatest passion is travel. In summer of 2015, we spent a month abroad in Ireland.
In late June 2015, we were driving on the Ring of Kerry in County Kerry, Ireland. My family stopped for a picnic on short grass and rocks overlooking the Atlantic. It was a beautiful, rugged spot. We had seen some woolly sheep along our drive to the location, and found some pellets of sheep droppings in the grass, although there were none where we sat. Ticks did not even enter my mind.
We ate our lunch and took some pictures, then finished the long drive. When we got back to our B&B, my lovely mother-in-law, who was traveling with us for part of the trip, offered to babysit so my husband and I could have dinner out together. I took a shower before our “date,” and then discovered a small lump on the back of my calf. It felt weird and foreign to me. I took a closer look, and then was deeply horrified to see that it was a tick with its nasty little legs and body sticking out of my calf.
I had never seen a tick before, in spite of living throughout California and having many camping and hiking trips. My husband looked up the best way to remove it, and I yanked the nasty little nymph tick out with a pair of tweezers. The tick’s head broke off inside my leg. I was grossed out, but used a needle to remove the head, and sanitized the area. Insects and arachnids don’t usually bother me – but I was really disturbed, and actually felt violated by the tick. It sounds like an exaggeration, but I remember being very shaken. This was at about 8pm.
The tick could not have been attached for any longer than 8 hours. Nonetheless, I later developed Lyme disease and babesiosis. (The CDC says the tick must be attached for at least 36 hours – this is absolutely false.)
My husband and I searched for “Lyme disease in Ireland” on Google. We found the wonderful TickTalkIreland.org website, and learned that Lyme and several coinfections, such as babesia and bartonella, ARE present in Ireland.
Contrary to what I’d heard in the past, the TickTalkIreland.org website told me that 50% or fewer people with Lyme ever develop a bull’s eye rash. Instead, the website clearly listed other symptoms to watch out for. This was hugely important, as it was these symptoms that later made it clear to me that I had Lyme disease:
From the Tick Talk Ireland Website:
The early symptoms of a Lyme infection can include headaches, chronic fatigue and flu like symptoms such as sore throat, neck stiffness and muscle aches. The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary from day to day and from person to person sometimes making it extremely difficult to diagnose which earns it the nickname ‘The Great Mimicker’. Lyme disease is commonly misdiagnosed as other illnesses such as C.F.S (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E.), Multiple Sclerosis and Fibromyalgia.
Approximately 50% percent of infected people will develop the classic ‘bull’s eye rash’ known as an erythema migrans (EM) within 3 to 30 days of being bitten. It may be in a place where is goes unnoticed like the scalp and some people never develop this rash.