Stage 1 Lyme may pass without you noticing a bull’s-eye rash, but stage 2 waves its own distinct signs. Early disseminated Lyme, as it’s called, usually begins one to four months after the tick bite. For some people, though, acute Lyme disseminates (spreads) in just weeks. For my dad, it only took days.
Late in the summer of 2013, he was clearing out brush behind their fence, along the edge of their woods. Later that day or the next, he noticed a red mark on his ankle that looked like a bug bite. He said, “Spider would’ve been my guess.”
No bull’s-eye rash ever developed near the red mark. For a couple days, he continued to think it was a bite from a spider or possibly a mosquito.
The Telltale Sign of Stage 2 Lyme
A few days later, he started spiking high fevers—up to 103 degrees—toward the evening. The following morning, though, his temperature was only between 99.0 and 99.5 degrees. He thought, “I’m about better now, so I’ll go to work.”
This happened two days in a row. Since his temperature was down in the morning, he would go to work and work all day as a cable splicer for Verizon. By the end of the day, though, he felt terrible again.
He and Mom tried to figure out what was going on. They started reading about Lyme disease.
Still sick ten days after he noticed the red mark, Dad finally made a doctor’s appointment. The day before the appointment, six plain red rashes materialized around his body. “Then Mom and I knew it had to be Lyme.”
When he met with the doctor, Dad said, “Don’t tell me. Let me tell you.” He grinned. “It’s Lyme. Am I right?”
The doctor confirmed Dad’s hypothesis and started him on two weeks of Doxycycline. By the time he finished the antibiotics, Dad was all better. Or so he thought.
The Unexpected Aftermath
That fall and winter, Dad began having strange symptoms. At first, he attributed them to the stress, forced overtime, and toxic work environment at his job. But these symptoms—depression, low energy, and lack of concentration—dampened his days. What’s more, the latter may have led to his two car accidents.
Before the tick bite, my dad loved playing volleyball. Still does in fact. Both at family events and in practices and tournaments with other men, it’s been a favorite sport.
During that season, though, he had to drag himself everywhere, including to volleyball. “Even that seemed like work,” he said. “I just felt like I was dragging myself through everything I had to do.”
Finally, in 2015, after retiring from Verizon, Dad changed doctors. The new one did bloodwork and diagnosed him with hypothyroidism. Since then, thyroid medicine has eased his symptoms.
Today, Dad is thriving in his semi-retired life. He remodels houses, babysits his grandkids, and plays tennis several times a week.
But what does Dad’s thyroid disease have to do with his tick bite? Read “Can Lyme Disease Cause Hypothyroidism?”