The IV medication continues on the third day of an eight week long span. My moments by the drip holder are almost meditative, and my thoughts naturally revolves around how I ended up here.
I’ve been bitten by ticks several times, which makes me unsure of when and where the lyme bug entered my body. Somewhat ironically, I guess it happened at a moment when I neither saw nor felt anything at all.
In the summer of 2000, we traveled to Åland (an archipelago of islands off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, forming an autonomous province of Finland.) The route back went through the beatiful chain of small islands connecting Åland to the archipelago of Turku. Back home in Jakobstad, my wife Ia suddenly got a rash on her skin – erythema migrans, the classic red “bulls-eye” so closely associated with lyme.
It is nowadays well known that less than half of the people infected by lyme develop a rash, and still fewer of them develop the characteristic “bulls-eye” rash. Thus what happened to Ia was kind of a blessing in disguise – her skin rash was distinct and clear-cut.
Neither one of us had actually seen a tick crawling on our skin, nor clinging on to our body – nothing. My uncle, who is a doctor, reacted swiftly and put her on a doxycycline treatment “just to be sure”. For this I’m immensely grateful today, as it probably saved her from the life-draining disease I’m fighting.
About two months after our return from Åland, my body had a major breakdown. My skin was on fire, I got severe pain in my back and neck, just moving my body around hurt, my head was buzzing like a beehive.
I got a doctor’s appointment, went there to describe my physical problems, and got back home with a prescription for antidepressants.
Now, there is a strain of depression running through my family, and I got to experience that way before the year of 2000. I went through seasonal depressions when summer approached, hitting its peak (or low, as one might say) during mid-summer, just to lighten up and subside at the break of fall. Only late summer and fall 2000, there was no subsiding, things only got worse.
Later I’ve come to believe that I got infected during the summer trip, the moment of transmission passing unnoticed. Then the physical reaction hit me some months later and in doing so, it turned my seasonal depression into a chronic one. Alternatively, I might have carried the bug latently in my body from a previous infection and then stress or depression might have triggered the outburst.
It’s hard to know for sure, but there is something about the timing – the trip to Åland, my wife getting bitten by a tick, the general occurrence of ticks carrying lyme in the region – that makes me inclined to lean towards the first of the two alternatives.
I have been on antidepressants since that fall, and they have helped me a lot. The few times I’ve laid off them have shown me their benefits. That said, this doctor’s visit was the first in a chain of many to come where I’ve been diagnosed with a mental problem expressing itself physically.
The wall between body and soul has always been a thin one for me. I’m quite familiar with my body reacting sympathetically to my emotions. Thus this first diagnose sounded perfectly sound to me – then.
When the physical deterioration gradually started to set in a bit later and new, unexplainable symptoms emerged, neither I myself nor the doctors connected them to any underlying, destructive factor. We just saw them as separate matters. More on this later.