So I felt compelled to write this little public service announcement about Lyme disease because both my parents have been treated for it recently. They live in Maryland, which is a hot-bed for Lyme disease carrying ticks, but so is the East Coast in general. It's not an uncommon disease, and not too bad if you catch it in time, which is why I wanted to share these lesser known signs of Lyme Disease:
Rashes, but not necessarily shaped in a bulls-eye
Both my parents, at different times, noticed their knees had become incredibly and inexplicably sore. My mother said that she sat down at her desk, feeling fine, and by the time she stood back up again, she noticed that the insides of her knees had become incredibly sore and painful to the touch. She said she was hobbling, the pain was so bad. She knew there was obviously something wrong, and being an East Coaster, suspected Lyme disease straight away. Both my parents work outdoors a lot, so they get bit by ticks all the time. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but some do.
Anyway, she went to the doctor, described her symptoms, and they gave her antibiotics straight away. Now she feels all better.
It's interesting, because everyone is told to watch out for bulls-eye shaped rashes as a sign of Lyme disease, but turns out very few people develop such a distinct rash. My mother remembered having a strange rash at one point, but said it was so minor looking that she thought nothing of it at the time.
My father, however, did have the classic bulls-eye rash (in addition to sore knees), and again, just went to the doctor where they gave him antibiotics, and he too feels just fine now. It's a serious disease if it progresses too long (Amy Tan wrote some really alarming stuff about her advanced Lyme disease, particularly in her excellent memoir, The Opposite of Fate), but if you know the signs it seems to be very treatable when caught early. The CDC has a good resource here for what to look out for.
Wherever you live in the world, if you happen to visit the East Coast of the United States, and you later have unexplained flu-ish symptoms, a rash, and sore joints/knees, please consider telling your doctor that you've traveled in a region that experiences high rates of Lyme disease.
I've grown up being aware of the symptoms my entire life, but not until this year did I think to look out for sore knees based on my parents' experiences. Just something I thought would be worth sharing.