Ticked / La Garrapata

La versión español está después de la primera foto.

I told this story in August 2017 about my experience with Lyme Disease, but when I went to share the link yesterday, I discovered the post, although still on blogger, was not on WordPress. So here it is again.

WHILE LIVING IN WHAT WE called “the country” in Guilford, Connecticut in the late ’80s and early ’90s, we were always working outside in our gardens. More than half our property was wooded. We also regularly went hiking, spending a lot of time in nature. And we were in the heart of what was at the time Lyme Disease country — just a hop, skip, and a tick-jump from the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where the syndrome, Lyme Disease, got its name.

Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans by ticks that are carried on other mammals, such as deer and birds. The tick is commonly known as a deer tick. If you’re interested in learning about it in detail, check out the information on Wikipedia here. Most people who are bitten by a tick do not contract the disease. I was not so lucky. It’s a longish story with a happy ending.

Lyme Disease isn’t readily diagnosed because the symptoms vary and resemble so many other illnesses. Mine started with severe pain in my head. Not a headache. Severe pain. Thankfully, I can’t really remember it well enough to describe it, but I know it was awful. I didn’t sleep even a moment for three days. On the third day, a dull and constant ache appeared in my right shoulder.

Since my sister Dale had brain cancer when she was 26 before dying of bone cancer at 29, I of course thought my turn had come. I kept the thought to myself.

I went to my doctor after the second day. He did a bunch of tests. So, all I could do was wait. San Geraldo’s mother was visiting and we drove down to New York as planned to visit The Dowager Duchess, who gave up her bed for me. They went out to theatre (my aunt Lilly used my ticket) and I went to bed. After a while, incredibly, I slept. I woke up in the morning rested and pain-free. I was elated. I walked into the kitchen to announce the good news and San Geraldo looked at me and said, “What’s the matter with your face?”

‘The face I’ve always had and had never really been happy with?’ I thought.

“Nothing, it’s as perfect as always,” I joked.

“One side is drooping.”

I looked in the mirror and saw he was right. Bell’s Palsy, I thought. The Kid Brother had it. But then I thought again, ‘No, just another sign of a brain tumor.’

My mother insisted we pose for a photo together. I knew exactly what she was thinking.

Click here for the rest of the story.


Conté esta historia en agosto de 2017 sobre mi experiencia con la enfermedad de Lyme, pero cuando fui a compartir el enlace ayer, descubrí que la publicación, aunque todavía estaba en blogger, no estaba en WordPress. Así que aquí está de nuevo.

MIENTRAS VIVIÁMOS EN LO QUE considerábamos “el campo” en Guilford, Connecticut, a finales de los 80 y principios de los 90, siempre trabajábamos afuera en nuestros jardines. Más de la mitad de nuestra propiedad estaba arbolada. También íbamos de excursión con regularidad, pasando mucho tiempo en la naturaleza. Y estábamos en el corazón de lo que era entonces el país de la “Enfermedad de Lyme” (en inglés, Lyme Disease) muy cerca de los pueblos de Lyme y Old Lyme, Connecticut, donde el síndrome recibió su nombre.

La Enfermedad de Lyme se transmite a los humanos por las garrapatas que se llevan a otros animales, como ciervos y aves. La garrapata se conoce comúnmente como garrapata de venado. Si tienes interés en aprender más, haz clic aquí. La mayoría de las personas que son mordidas por una garrapata no contraen la enfermedad. No tuve tanta suerte. Es una historia larga con un final feliz.

La enfermedad de Lyme no se diagnostica fácilmente porque los síntomas varían y se parecen a muchas otras enfermedades. El mío comenzó con un dolor severo en la cabeza. Afortunadamente, no puedo recordarlo lo suficientemente bien como para describirlo, pero sé que fue horrible. No dormí ni un momento durante tres días. Al tercer día, apareció un dolor sordo y constante en mi hombro derecho.

Fui a mi médico después del segundo día. Hizo un montón de pruebas. Entonces, todo lo que pude hacer fue esperar. La madre de San Geraldo estaba de visita y condujimos hasta Nueva York como estaba planeado para visitar a la duquesa viuda, quien me cedió su cama. Salieron al teatro (mi tía Lilly usó mi boleto) y me fui a la cama. Después de un tiempo, increíblemente, me dormí. Me desperté por la mañana descansado y sin dolor. Estaba eufórico. Entré a la cocina para anunciar la buena noticia y San Geraldo me miró y me dijo: “¿Qué te pasa en la cara?

¿La cara que siempre he tenido y nunca había sido realmente feliz?’ pensé.

“Nada, es tan perfecto como siempre”, bromeé.

“Un lado ha caído”, me dijo.

Me miré al espejo y vi que tenía razón. Parálisis de Bell, pensé. El Hermanito lo tenía. Pero entonces pensé otra vez: ‘No, sólo otro signo de un tumor cerebral’.

Mi madre insistió en posar para una foto juntos. Sabía exactamente lo que estaba pensando.

Haz clic aquí para ver el resto de la historia.

Our place in Guilford.

Nuestro hogar en Guilford.

1990. The imperfect face.

1990. La cara imperfecta.

1977. After Dale’s first cancer diagnosis and just before her surgery. Kermit the Frog says it all.

1977. Después del primer diagnóstico de Dale y antes de su cirugía. Kermit el Rana lo dice todo.

A deer tick, actually the size of a sesame seed.

Una garrapata de venado, en realidad del tamaño de una semilla de sésamo.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

16 thoughts on “Ticked / La Garrapata”

    1. Bob:
      Lyme Disease can be permanently debilitating. I was very lucky. It was exciting feeling and seeing my face slowly twitch back to life. I’m sure ANY sag I have 30 years later is all because of Lyme Disease. I don’t suffer from the natural ageing process.

    1. David:
      As vain as I can be, I was surprised at how well I handled the paralysis. I was lucky. I think it was only about 3 weeks before sensation began to return to my face (as opposed to just random nerve pain). It took a few years to get as far as it did. And it seriously never came back completely, but the loss was so minimal that no one would know.

    1. Debra:
      It was a fascinating (and scary at first) experience. I was very lucky. Many people end up with permanent disabilities.

  1. Amazing resemblance in those 2 photos between your mother and Dale even though Dale’s smile is crooked. You look completely drugged out in the photo with your mother.

    1. Wilma:
      It’s funny you say that about my mother and Dale. We both resembled both sides of the family. So, put us next to one or the other of our parents and people say we look just like them. I didn’t want to pose for that photo with my mother but she insisted. Now I’m glad I did. And I did very soon realise this was the same photo she did with Dale, which I appreciated the importance of. So glad it didn’t turn out that way. Losing two children to brain tumours would be a lot to take. And, yes, I looked drugged out and that was only the start. By that afternoon, the right side of my face had died completely. Too bad I didn’t let anyone take a picture of me when my face was entirely paralysed. I remember people just staring at me blankly when I spoke. Even fairly good acquaintances. It was an eye-opening experience (which was good because I couldn’t close my eyes anyway).

  2. I have several friends that had contracted the same disease. And thankful all manageable cases no signs they have anything. My good friend and neighbor had it too along with many other aliments. When I came back from my trip to Vienna last summer, I had found out she drank herself to death because of the pain. She was always drinking, She may have even used vodka on her cornflakes. Many warned her and tried to help. But she couldn’t take it. When I have Buster and we’re outside for some time, I always check him for ticks as we have tons of deer here and the fox. I do think Kermit has it all in that picture. But to be honest I think you look as handsome as ever in the pictures.

    1. Mistress Maddie:
      Well, if you looked at the photo of me with SG and his mother in the original follow-up post, you can see what the pain was doing to me. I can’t imagine living with that kind of pain (and no sleep) for more than those few days. SO sorry about your neighbour. Life can be so hard. I knew people with Lyme who recovered perfectly. I did know one woman who was diagnosed at the same time as me. She didn’t have neurological, “just” the more common joint pain. But her doctors couldn’t figure out what it was and never tested for Lyme. By the time she got to an expert, permanent damage had been done. She was only 20 at the time. She has arthritis and and numerous joint problems (with pain) as a result.

  3. Holy cow! What a story! I’ve known people with Lyme Disease but not the neurological kind — or at least not with the same symptoms as yours. That must have been so frightening, to be unable to move your face.

    1. Steve:
      Admittedly, I did panic when the other side of my face dropped. I didn’t even realise until I tried to eat lunch. Once I knew it was Lyme Disease, I wasn’t scared anymore. At least it’s not a brain tumor, I thought! And I was surprised at how well I handled the paralysis… especially given my vanity. The most difficult part of that for me was having to sleep with my eyes bandaged because they wouldn’t close. Very disconcerting to wake up unable to see. It always took me a moment to remember why.

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