2004 – On Thursday morning, 48 hours after our visit to the 'Château de la Roche aux Moines', my lower leg was swollen and the red circle was turning blue in the middle. During the night, it felt as if my leg was set in a tight clamp. By morning I could hardly walk.
Although we had some plans for the day, we decided to go and see a pharmacist first to get some Zyrtec (antihistamine) and a disinfectant. At the pharmacy in
Arriving in the waiting room, the receptionist looked which doctor was available. We only had to wait 15 minutes before one of the doors opened and a slender young woman showed us into her cabinet. I explained what had happened … about our walk, the little insect that had sat on my leg, the itching feeling, the pain I was experiencing, etc. She listened attentively and then asked a question that, even nowadays, still makes us laugh: “Did you manage to identify the culprit?” Afterwards my friend explained to me that he was about to answer “No, he was wearing a ski mask” just when I said “No, it was a tiny thing, but I think it was a spider.”
After the interview she made me lie down on the examining table and carefully inspected the red circle and the spot where the insect had bitten me. She felt my stomach and asked whether I had been feeling ill or feverish. No. In spite of my answer, she looked very worried and was very vague about what could have caused this extreme reaction.
In the end she gave me a prescription for two boxes of strong antibiotics (2 x 2 per day), some antihistamine, a pain killer, a bottle of medicinal alcohol as a disinfectant and an ointment to apply on the bite wound. She also gave me the strict instructions to go and see my doctor once I got home in case there wasn’t any improvement within two or three days.
Although the antibiotics gave me an upset stomach and tummy, after two or three days, the pain subsided and the diameter of the red circle started to diminish. Five days later, even before taking the last dose of antibiotics, my leg was back to normal. It turned out, however, that it wasn’t just a bad reaction to a simple spider bit. It was much more serious than that. I had been bitten by a tick and the little bloodsucker had pumped the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into my blood, thus causing the first stage of Lyme disease. This explains why the lady doctor looked so worried and prescribed such powerful antibiotics.
This experience has made me very careful when it comes to walking in high grass. I try to wear full length trousers and socks all the time. And after a long walk I always check my lower legs for little black spots … showing the presence of a tick. Until now, I have been spared, but you just can’t be careful enough.