There are always two telltale signs that I am not feeling well.  One is the fact that I could care less if anyone in the house forgets to flush the other is that my favorite bottle of Pinot Grigio will stay untouched for days on end.  If any of my family members catch on, they know this is not a good sign for them because in this household when mom’s down for the count the whole family goes down with her.

Multitasking for me is coughing, sneezing, getting a blood transfusion and roasting a chicken for tonight’s dinner.  It takes a mighty lot to stop me in my tracks but recently it only took a critter the size of a pinhead to knock me off my feet—a deer tick.

My most productive time of the day is any time after 8 PM.  The kids are usually done with homework or back from sports and other activities, dinner is done and it’s then that I can finally have a little peace and quiet and expend my energy on anything from organizing the linen closet (yeah, right!) to catching up on e-mails, reading or my favorite passion other than wine—writing.

I started to settle into my routine of throwing in the 4th load of laundry for the day before I retreated to my sanctuary—our master bedroom that is currently in the midst of a decorating transformation.  Well, that’s a civilized way of saying that I’m finally getting around to sorting through the last few years of magazines that I intended to read and with summer now in full swing they’ve more or less turned my peaches and cream bedroom into a decoupage nightmare.

Somehow I managed to ignore the Better Homes and Gardens that was beckoning me to get my mansion organized and plugged in my laptop instead.  As soon as the screen began flashing, so did my eyesight.  Tiny, annoying white spots began blinking in front of me and then it began—the mother of all headaches.

You’d think with eight kids I’d be a master at handling a splitting pain in my head, but my guardian angels must think I have enough to deal with just keeping five boys and three toilets clean so I’ve been spared every suffering from head pain unless I actually slip on someone’s matchbox car and land on mine.  But when this doozey of a throb took hold of me, I was not only surprised, I was certain it was something horrible like a bad reaction to my new wine of the month I had just uncorked.  Not good!

I closed my eyes and laid still, another motion I’m still not familiar with 18 years and 8 kids later, but my body gave me no choice.  Once the headache grabbed on, it decided it wasn’t leaving anytime soon.  I vaguely remember waking up at about 2 AM to a case of the shivers that nearly shook me off the bed.  Because I have a husband who travels during the week, the only one I could yell to for help was the mouse that was running around our master bathroom with the trap stuck to his leg, but he had problems of his own to deal with.

I managed to crawl up the stairs to get some aspirin, but have no clue how I made it back to my bedroom because by then, the body aches that engulfed my partially tanned body (that would be a tawny face, neck, and lower arms with all else shaded in pasty white due to the clever cover-ups I wear while in any public viewing areas) were so powerful I began to make out my last will and testament.

Figuring I had a case of the summer flu, I laid low for a couple of days and tried to rest in between shuttling kids to the pool, driver’s ed, baseball camp and grocery shopping.  What’s that expression—you can’t keep a good woman down?  Well, I respectfully disagree with that now because this good woman not only went down, but though she was sinking six feet under while experiencing the horrific symptoms of non-stop head pain, body chills, severe muscle aches and worse, I had absolutely no desire to indulge in my summer refuge—pinot grigio.

I decided a soothing hot bath was in order and that’s when I found it.  I turned to grab my towel and there on my pasty white back was a bulls-eye rash the size of a softball.  Aha!  I wasn’t dying and I hadn’t developed an adverse reaction to my beloved wine—it looked like I was a victim of Lyme disease!

My doctor confirmed the diagnosis the following day and I began the standard treatment—a 21-day prescription of the antibiotic Doxycycline.

It’s only been a few days since I’ve started treatment but my headache is finally gone and the bulls-eye is beginning to fade.  Admittedly, I was ignorant about this infectious tick-borne disease despite how common it is here in South County.  Foolishly, I believed I was always pro-active in keeping ticks at bay and had taken the proper precautionary measures for my family and I each time we went to a likely place that carried these pests.  Although I knew that Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the U.S. and that Rhode Island has the fifth-highest incidence of this disease in the country, with South County being at the top of the list in the state, it’s registering much more seriously with me now.

For the many that have already been diagnosed or know someone that has, I can now truly feel your pain and will not poo poo the discussion of how awful it is ever again.  For those who have not, you may want to visit the American Lyme Disease Foundation to learn about prevention, symptoms and other important information about Lyme disease.

My family and I love being outdoors so I won’t let this deter me from doing the things we enjoy, and am grateful I caught mine in the very early stages and anticipate a full recovery.  I’m also looking forward to becoming an advocate for helping others learn more about this prevalent disease affecting so many of us in hopes that our communities can stay as informed and healthy as possible.

Oh, and more good news—I just enjoyed my first glass of wine in weeks so I must be feeling better—Cheers!

Copyright 2011 Cheryl L. Butler