Monday, June 11, 2012

Tick Talk

With as much time as I spend in the woods, it was just a matter of time before I was bitten by tick and given a nasty infection. I’ve had hundreds of ticks on me over the years, but I’ve always been able to get them off before they have become deeply embedded in my skin. I wasn’t so lucky with my last tick experience.

A picture of the Lone-Star tick.  This is the nasty little bugger that got me.

After the Syllamo NUE race on Saturday May 19, 2012, I went down to the river that runs through the middle of the park to clean myself up. The water felt great on my tired legs and it was a convenient way to remove all the dirt from the day. While washing the grime from my legs in the river, I found four ticks latched onto me. They all came off fairly easily and it appeared as if there were no others anywhere else on me, so I thought everything was fine.

A "tick key"
By Monday, the poison ivy I got at Syllamo was starting to itch a lot on my lower legs. I was even itching around my groin area and wondering how poison ivy had spread there. I checked that area out a little closer on Tuesday morning when I was in the shower and I was shocked to see that the itching was being caused by a tick buried in me. I used my tick key to remove the little guy and he came out without any further issue. I rubbed some Neosporin on the area and figured I would be fine since the entire tick was removed.

I didn’t think much more about my tick bite until the Monday after the Mohican 100 race. As most know now, I didn’t feel well when I did the Mohican 100. I had a headache, a sore throat, swollen glands in my neck, tired feeling muscles and basically just felt run down. I thought maybe I had these symptoms because I was coming down with a cold or something.  Then, on Monday after the race, I noticed the lymph gland near where my tick bite was had swollen to the size of a large marble and was very tender to the touch. Everything seemed to click right then and I was able to put two plus two together in regards to my symptoms being associated with my tick bite.

I called my family doctor, told him about my tick bite and described my symptoms. He told me to come in that afternoon for an appointment. I was given a prescription for an antibiotic and an order for a Lyme disease blood test. The first antibiotic I took helped a little, but my extremely swollen lymph node on my leg did not go down too much. After doing some research on the interweb, I found that doxycycline is a preferred treatment for tick bite infections, so I had my prescription changed. Within a couple of days of starting my new prescription, my symptoms made a much better improvement. Additionally, I received the good news that my Lyme disease blood test was negative.

One of the best websites I found while doing my research on tick bites and Lyme disease was the American Lyme Disease Foundation site. It is clear, concise and full of information.  If you spend any time outside, please take a few minutes to look over the information on this website. There is a lot to learn on there from the prevention of tick bites, to the symptoms and treatment of different tick bite infections. I am certain the information I have gained this past week about ticks and the infections they carry will be useful in the future.

I feel like it won’t be long now until I am functioning at 100% again. I’m not there yet and for this reason, I've decided to NOT do the Lumberjack 100 this weekend. I think all the traveling and stress of doing such a hard race would hinder my recovery. Instead, I am going to try racing this weekend at the Big Bear 2x12 in Bruceton Mills, WV on a duo SS team with Nathan Annon. Big Bear might not be a NUE Series race, but it will be good fun and a good way for me to check on my fitness without putting my body through too much stress. Hopefully, things will go well this weekend and give me a good indication that I will be ready for the six remaining NUE Races I have planned this year.

Happy Trails...   Gerry


  1. Hope you feel better Gerry. I have had lymes several times over my 37 years, and last year contracted babesiosis from a tick bite in NY. Anyway, you may want to get tested for that as well if you don't feel up to speed in the next weeks.

    Ticks, as you know, are nasty l'il buggers.

    1. Even though I will miss racing with you at Lumberjack you made the right choice. Those are powerful medications that work to kill the infection, but kills your body at the same time. When I took it last year I did the DH40 and felt horrible. Everyone is different, but I don't think you should race at all. I found if I did some light riding I was fine but anything over LT I sucked.
      Good luck with your recovery. Don't worry it will stoke your fire for later in the season and you will be winning as usual.

  2. Thanks for the comments and information, Craig and James.

  3. That's one more reason to run the "hard woods" down below!
    wax or shave for appearance and safety

  4. Wow... This one hits close to home. Sorry to hear you got a bad bite, Gerry. Feel better soon, man!


  5. dude.... lyme tests are anything but certain. In fact, my doctor told me it was almost a 50/50 split on whether they get the diagnosis right. how's that for advancement in the medical field.

    I tested positive... went through all of the treatment. Then another doctor saw the initial results and said there was a chance I never had it. Crazy.

    anyways... i would get tested again in a couple months.

  6. Thanks for the info, Justin. The reading I've done recently about Lyme disease has also indicated that the testing for it is not 100% accurate. Additionally, it takes at least four weeks after being bit for enough antibodies to be present in the blood to give a positive test result. Luckily, the tick that bit me is not a likely carrier of the disease and there are very few reports of Lyme in Arkansas. But, not knowing exactly what type of infection I have is just as worrisome as being tested positive for Lyme. Hopefully, whatever I had is now gone. I guess only time will tell at this point.

  7. I feel pleasure to read the content that you are posting.
    Frontline plus for dogs

  8. The quality of your articles and contents is great.