‘Aaron, you’re not going to become a go-getter now, are you?’

We had at long last identified the cause of Aaron’s chronic suffering and fatigue, tracing it to an ill-fated tick bite he suspects he got during MMT in the spring of 2010. And following an initial bout of elation I was struck with trepidation. What if the mellow, sleepy Aaron I’d come to adore was only a Lyme-depressed manifestation of him?? What if the post-doxycycline Aaron would be less inclined towards naps and CSI marathons and instead favor frenetic activity? He had been a triathlete, after all! For goodness sake, what if the healthy version of Aaron would turn out to be….ambitious?

Aaron’s condition had flared after running Highland Sky, when he had a week of 102 degree fevers, teeth-chattering chills, and extreme fatigue. The experience triggered an idea that his many years of malaise might have been related to a pathogen, rather than the Achilles problem he had chalked it up to. The first two doctors were not impressed that slipping to a mere 2:50 marathon time could possibly represent a medical problem, and would not satisfy our request for a Lyme disease test. Finally, I snuck Aaron in to see my primary care physician, Dr Hunter, took his case seriously and ordered a battery of tests, including for all tick-borne illnesses.

We’re ready for a long road to recovery, but are elated to finally be on it. It’s amazing how many fellow trail runners know someone who has had Lyme disease or have experienced it themselves. As an infectious disease epidemiologist, it’s been fascinating to learn about the ecology and spread of Lyme — and troubling to read about the market failure 15 years ago of a vaccine with fairly good effectiveness against Lyme disease, but which was pulled after media hyping of false links to adverse events. Don’t get me started on the media and vaccines.

And no, Aaron promises, he won’t turn into a go-getter. But he might give me a taste of my own medicine on a long run.


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