I know what you may be wondering: did I get bit by a tick on the East Coast? I've been asked this question maybe 1,000 times since getting my Lyme Disease diagnosis. Well, sweet friends, unless you can get bit by a tick in the dead of winter inside of a dimly lit New York City bar sometime after midnight on New Years Eve of 2016, then no, the chances are slim that I contracted Lyme Disease back East.
The short answer is this: I got bit right in my own backyard galavanting around half naked in the wilderness of Southern California unaware of the dangers of Lyme Disease. This is how a Southern California girl contracts Lyme Disease.
Allow me to elaborate. It looks a little something like this:
This is a photo of me not on the trail. This is a photo of me wading through low hanging branches that are brushing my hair. This is a photo of me with a lot of exposed skin. This is a photo of me doing all of the things that one should not do if you don't wish to contract Lyme Disease. This is a photo of how one contracts Lyme Disease.
It can also look a bit like this:
This is my beloved and no-longer-with-us Doberman, Cielo, off leash and roaming freely in Malibu in Spring of 2018. Ticks really love dogs and they loved Cielo. In true Doberman style, Cielo roamed the bushes this day, prime territory for ticks. Just like her mother, she was not one for staying on the trail.
Not long after this photo was taken, Cielo and I went with a group of friends to eat burritos on a patio in Malibu. As we waited for scrumptious California breakfast burritos (tragically I can no longer eat these), I started to pull countless ticks off of Cielo. She was swarming. It was quite revolting and I started announcing to my friends and onlookers that she was covered in ticks.
A wise man near me said to me: "You should really be careful. You can get Lyme Disease here in Malibu." Arrogant and self-righteous, I ignored then brushed him off, along with a few more ticks.
I thought to myself: "I should give her a bath when I get home." I got home and gave myself a bath. Then, exhausted from our hike and with a full belly of burrito, proceeded to pass out that night with my baby girl Cielo in my bed. This, dear friends, is another great way to contract Lyme Disease. Ticks not only love dogs but they love to jump from dogs to humans, especially while we are sleeping.
I'll Never Know For Certain When I Was Bit
Like many Lyme Disease sufferers, I never saw my bite. I never got the telltale Bullseye rash that only 60% of us are lucky enough to get. I just know that within about three weeks of when the top photo was taken, I became deathly ill with what I now know are classic Lyme Disease symptoms: a terrible fever that lasted two weeks, horrible aches and pains in my joints, crushing fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, confusion, and more.
I told all of the above to my Southern California doctors and like me on the patio eating burritos, they dismissed me. But, 1+1 = 2. I saw ticks, I roamed freely outdoors with no protection, and now I have Lyme Disease. You do the math. The most logical conclusion to this tale is that I contracted Lyme Disease right here in Southern California, not in a sad bar in Brooklyn on a frigid winter night.