Friday, November 9, 2007


I went shopping and couldn’t help picking up some supplies for the Egypt trip. I bought mini bottles for hygiene items, a toothbrush cover, individually-packed flushable wipes, a small toilet paper roll, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and insect repellant. What else should I get? I’ve never travelled abroad.

I’ll definitely never forget insect repellant again. My all-time worst life experience happened last summer, when my son became seriously ill because I hadn’t bothered with insect repellant. We just came back from our first-ever vacation in New York, and my son developed a high fever that I attributed to his sunburn. One morning, a few weeks later, a rash appeared on his legs. The rash was strange-looking; it had red blots that expanded outward and faded as red rings. He began complaining he was stiff and sore; we were on a car trip at the time, so I thought this was the reason for that, even though his rash came and went, all over his body. His fever came back but was treatable by Tylenol. At the end of the trip, I hauled my son into the doctor. I explained everything, but the doctor couldn’t believe it was Lyme disease (which my mom and my husband had suggested) and told me it was a different illness, which would go away in 14 days. My son got worse.

Over the rest of that summer and into the next school year, he grew arthritic; he would cry at night. He couldn’t sit up in bed without assistance in the morning. At eight years of age, he needed help getting in and out of the shower and getting dressed. My son couldn’t function at all without Tylenol. He stopped playing video games—his favorite thing in the world—he started losing weight. He had headaches a lot, and, on one occasion, half of his face drooped. (Why is hindsight so painfully 20/20!) I kept bringing him to the doctor, who ordered lots of tests for him, but none of them explained his illness. After about four (? is it redundant to say ‘horrible’) months, a (blessedly) different doctor threw the test for Lyme disease into a new batch of tests, including many for childhood cancers.

The first call we received revealed my son had mono. In the second call, the doctor told us my son had Lyme disease. He was put on a (very) heavy dosage of Amoxicillin for a month. He has been in perfect health to this day, his 10th birthday. Happy Birthday My Guy!!! (He even has his chubby cheeks back. What a cutie!)
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria in ticks. (You can check the CDC website for details). Um, most likely my family would have been saved a lot of grief and tears, if we took a little precaution with bug spray (and maybe pulled up our socks in a classy fashion) when we spur-of-the-moment decided to go hike Prospect Mountain in Upper State New York. I even thought about using bug spray at the time but didn’t bother—I’m afraid the image of my son wasting away in bed will be stuck in my head for many years to come.

Why don’t we heed warnings?—even when it’s easy to do so? Thank goodness for tender mercies, if you know what I mean.

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