Lyme disease on the trail.

Hiking through Connecticut on the Appalachian Trail, I got a lot of warnings about Lyme disease. They said when I got done with my hike that I should take 4 weeks of doxycycline because the chances of getting it were so high. They told me stories of how they were not treated or under-treated with antibiotics and had serious complications from Lyme disease. They said to get 4- 6 weeks of antibiotics.

I wasn’t feeling well for awhile, tired and achy but that is sort of normal for being on a long distance trail. One morning I got up and started hiking… I hadn’t been hiking long when I laid down on a big rock in the sun and went to sleep. I just wanted to sleep, but after awhile I forced myself up and started hiking, after a couple of miles I laid down again for a nap, and then hiked a couple of miles with my knees aching and laid down for another nap ; I was so tired. I looked at my guide book and saw that from the next road crossing I could hitch-hike to town. I sat down on the road, too tired to stand and hitched a ride to a big old three storied B& B.

I told the women at the B& B, that I was more tired than I had ever been in my whole life. She said “I’ll show you to your room?. She walked me up all these flights of stairs each landing I would hopefully think we were there. Finally we got to the room and I went to lie down, but she said, “No, you need to check in first? so back down all those stairs with my aching knees and so tired it was really everything I could do to concentrate on getting down them. I checked in and walked back up all those stairs. I wasn’t there 5 minutes when she called me on the telephone and said that she hadn’t charged me enough and that I would need to come back down and pay her 5 more dollars. I said, “I can’t. You can come up and get it, or I will pay you in the morning but I’m not doing those stairs another time.? Even in my weakened state, I thought it was sort of comical making a sick person climb all those stairs.

I took a shower and looked in the mirror and found a tick on me. I scratched it off. There is no telling how many ticks I had had on me. I found that one because I was at atick.jpg hotel, I wouldn’t have found it had I been on the trail. Now it wasn’t just my knees that ached but every joint in my body. I called my son and through looking on the Internet he determined that I had Lyme disease. My neck ached terribly and I would get chilled and be looking at my sleeping bag on the floor, yet I would be too tired to get it. Then I would get really hot and look at a glass of water but I was too tired to reach for it.

The next day I climbed down the stairs and called a taxi to take me to Great Barrington Hospital. I slept in the chair in the waiting room. The nurse practitioner said that she would not prescribe antibiotics unless she was positive I had Lyme disease and that the test was not valid unless you had it for a long while and sometimes even still if wouldn’t necessarily be right. She took my temperature, and said, “See you have a temperature, that’s why you are tired.? I said, “what about my joint pain?. She shrugged her shoulders and charged me 125.00 dollars.

That night I moaned all night long from the pain in every joint. I had chills and then fevers. The next morning I had a bull’s-eye rash. I called that nurse practitioner and she said that she would have to see it before she would prescribe any antibiotics. I had taken a bus to another town and told her I was very tired and couldn’t make thebullseye.jpg trip back. She still refused me antibiotics. I made an appointment with a doctor that was closer to the motel and he looked at the rash and said it was a textbook picture of a Lyme disease rash. When he said that he would prescribe 2 weeks of doxycycline. I said, “No, everyone says 4-6 weeks.? But that is all he would give me and I was too tired to put up much of a fight. Then he charged me 85 dollars and sent me on my way. I took the antibiotics and in a few days, I was ready to head back out on the trail.

After I finished the trail I started getting hot achy knees, I read in the Merck manual that that is a sign of the kind of arthritis that you get from Lyme disease that hasn’t been treated fully. Also from reading stuff on the internet I learned that you should have 4 weeks of doxycycline. I found a Lyme disease specialist and went to him. He said that I was under-treated and that it may be too late. He prescribed 6 weeks of double doses of doxycycline and amoxicillin and charged me 175 dollars. I took them all and since then have not had the hot achy knees.

It’s really hard to find decent medical care when you are sick on the trail. It’s hard to get to the doctor and it’s hard to fight with them when you are sick. Many of the hiker’s doctors would prescribe the doxy for them. If you have a doctor see if you can get a prescription before you leave in case you need it. It’s criminal that the medicines that we need are locked up. I’m willing to take the consequences of my incompetence but it is so frustrating, unfair, and deadly to be at the mercy of incompetent doctors.

sawyers.jpgThis year, when I went hiking, I soaked my clothes and my tent in Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent Military Style Clothing Treatment, Soak System It’s supposed to last for 6 washings. I don’t like deet and would rather the insect repellent be on my clothes then on me.

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Hermit, long distance hiker, primitive cabin dweller, seeker.

One thought on “Lyme disease on the trail.”

  1. Might try permethian, it is a insect repellent you spray on your gear and clothing. Lot of people say it works pretty good. I use it but then again I also use deet.

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