Terii’s Cycling Babble

Well Now….
May 15, 2017, 6:45 am
Filed under: Misc

The last 4 days have thrown me quite a shocker while both clarifying and confusing things.

I don’t seem to have mentioned the issue that led to the discovery of my current predicament, which were skin spots. Why would I mention odd skin spots? What impact do they have on my cycling? The answer would be not much. On the surface at least.

So, last year at some point, I suddenly started breaking out in weird spots. They were popping up everywhere and fast. I panicked and ran to the doctor with images of them spreading from places that are securely covered by clothing to places above the collar bone. The idea of having this huge red splotch on my forehead was unpleasant and not to be endured. I don’t remember exactly when, but I’d say it was sometime between May and June.

The doctor was baffled, especially since they didn’t hurt or itch or any other obvious symptom other than existence. All she could really do was give me a referral to a dermatologist. The appointment would come in the mail.

So, I waited. Months I waited. Then the spots started spreading again and a few actually changed the texture of the skin and started to itch. Another panicked dash back to the doctor. She still had no answers, but assured me the referral was still flagged though an appointment hadn’t been set yet. She recommended an OTC hydrocortisone cream. It kinda worked on the spots that bothered me. They didn’t go away, but the itch did.

And still I waited for a dermatologist appointment.

Then, finally a few months ago, about 10 months after the referral had been flagged in the computer, I got a letter with an appointment time.

The dermatologist was very nice. When I showed her the spots, she was a bit taken aback by the number of them. She wasn’t sure what they were though. The only thing she could think of was ‘Borellia’, though she didn’t really think so. She asked if she could get biopsies of three of the spots as well as blood tests. My heart sunk at the mention of blood tests even more than the word ‘biopsies’. I agreed.

The biopsies were unpleasant, but not as bad as the first. Instead of cutting away the skin with a scalpel and stitching the wound closed, she used something like a leather punch and just took tiny little bits of skin, leaving little holes that were covered up with a bit of bandage. I was told the tests could take as long as 6 weeks for an answer.

The blood test was predictable. The very nice nurse who had assisted with the biopsies tried 3-4 times with no result. She apologized, telling me that the blood had to come from a vein. No finger-jabs. It was decided I could just go to the hospital’s lab the next day since the nurses there do nothing except take blood and so are generally more skilled.

Well, that turned into a bit of a circus as well. The first nurse at the lab the next morning was a younger one. She missed on both her attempts before going to get the supervising nurse. That was a very nice woman who had immigrated to Sweden from Africa some 20 years ago. She only tried once, but the vein eluded her. Since she couldn’t reliably find any others, she wasn’t going to just go randomly jabbing in the hopes of MAYBE hitting something. She patted my hand, seeing how upset I was and said she’d see if it was possible to do it via the finger jab. I answered that the first nurse the day before had said it couldn’t be done that way. She looked a bit baffled, but said she’d make some calls.

Bless her heart. It took her about 20 minutes to get an answer, but it turned out that YES, it could be done by collecting blood from a finger prick. I think it shocked her how downright enthusiastic I was as she sat down to jab my fingers. No fear, no flinching, just profound and cheerful sense of relief. She laughed and patted my arm when I told her she was my most favorite nurse in the world.

And so, I waited again.

Well, it was about 8 weeks, I think. Can’t remember exactly when I went through all that, but pretty sure it’s very close to being dead on a year since I first ran to the doctor with the spots.

The reason for the extra time was because the tests were contradictory. My blood said, ‘No problems’, but the skin results strongly hinted at Borellia. Unusual for a Swedish doctor, instead of marching me back into the lab for another attempt to get blood from a vein to retest, she simply prescribed the antibiotics for it. 3 weeks and she would check up on me in 6 to see how I was doing.

While the word ‘Borellia’ didn’t seem familiar to me, there was a little voice that whispered in the back of my mind that I should know it. So, I looked it up and oh, yeah. Swedes call it Borellia for the Latin name of the bacteria causing the infection. A tick borne infection. Americans would know it better as Lyme Disease.

I had mixed feelings about that. A complex muddled of feelings. Relief, concern, aggravation, and many shades and layers in between. Lyme Disease can cause neurological effects.

Well, that complicated Gordian knot of emotions only grew larger and more tangled when I went to the CDC web site. Muscle pain, nerve pain, joint pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, face feeling numb or losing muscle tone on one or both sides. I’ve had them all. I looked at the photos of the types of rash that can develop as well and right there amongst them are the ones that could have been photographed right off me.

Other than feeling gutted, I don’t know how to feel now. Even knowing it’s a perfect storm of the post-stroke symptoms (muscle and nerve pain) that are so identical to many symptoms of my¬†highly likely case of Lyme Disease, it’s still distressing. How much anguish I might have been spared if it had been caught earlier? What if the two times I’ve been in the hospital for a numb face had absolutely NOTHING to do with the stroke or ‘fat clots’ in my brain, but everything to do with Lyme Disease? What if my recent decline in ability and sharp rise of agonizing pain that makes it a challenge just to get up for a glass of water a lesson in agony. The months of trying to walk and suddenly feeling like all strength has gone out of my limbs like a puppet getting its strings cut?

As for the tick bite? Never found one bitten into me, but I have a pretty good idea where it probably was. I still have a spot on my right side, more toward my back. It had looked rather like a bruise, but never went away, didn’t hurt. It never looked like the bullseye or any of the other more distinctive indicators of a Borellia infected tick bite spot. That was more than 2 years ago, right about the time when I felt almost ‘back to my old self’ after the stroke.

To think, I’ve been declining ever since all because of a tick I never even saw…