Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
I’ve been having a hard time. Just over a month ago, my boyfriend broke up with me, leaving me shocked and heartbroken. Since then, I’ve been plagued by a recurring medical ailment so strange I can only assume it’s somehow related, as if once my boyfriend left me my immune system decided to call it quits too.
It began about three weeks ago when I noticed a bug bite on the back of my thigh had blistered, which had never happened to me before. I’d noticed the bite the night before but it hadn’t bothered me. I get bitten by mosquitos a lot (not to brag but they love me!) and the bites always turn into red, swollen little welts that itch like crazy, but this barely itched at all.
Once it blistered, however, it started to itch. The next morning, a huge circle had formed around the bite, red and swollen. It was warm to the touch and itched like crazy. I took a photo and sent it to my father, a physician, and called him. When he called me back five hours later, he sounded concerned, a highly unusual reaction for him, especially when it comes to my medical conditions. He prescribed me Doxycycline, which I was excited about because as far as I’m concerned, antibiotics are the solution to all of life’s problems.
The next day, I showed the bite to a friend of mine who’s an allergist. She said the last thing I wanted to hear: it could be a tick bite. I’d been home at my dad’s house a month earlier and the yard been swarming with ticks. I’d picked several off the dog and dug one out of my sister’s arm. My dad put her on Doxycycline and I was paranoid I’d get bitten too, especially because the ticks were so small they were barely visible, but my dad said I was overreacting. In a way he was right because whatever was happening on my leg was an extreme overreaction to something. Even my skin loves D.R.A.M.A.!
I started googling. Apparently a bullseye rash around a bug bite is the first sign not of a tick bite, but of actual fucking Lyme disease, and it can appear up to a month after the the bite. At that point, the red rings on my leg looked like a dart board. According to my allergist friend and the internet, if it was Lyme, the antibiotics should knock it out of me. Still, I immediately started tweeting that I had Lyme disease because my brain also loves D.R.A.M.A. and also because it seemed like it might be true!
A few days and several doses of Doxycycline later, the bite had gone down, the trace of it still visible on my leg, and I came down with a sinus infection, which is not unusual for me. I get them several times a year and have since college. In fact, I had a terrible one just a month earlier, when I went home with my boyfriend to meet his family (lol). I asked my dad if I could take a Z-Pack, my usual cure, and he said I’d run the risk of colitis and that the Doxycycline should help anyway. I’d been taking the antibiotics for days at that point and they certainly hadn’t helped with my sinuses, but I refrained from starting a whole new kind of antibiotic even though colitis sounds like something that might make me thin.
Here’s the thing: I fucking love antibiotics, expressly because I get sinus infections so frequently. I used to try to suffer through them because I know taking antibiotics every couple of months isn’t exactly good for you, but now the second yellow snot comes out of my nose, I start my Z-Pack, and it always works like a miracle. I love antibiotics so much I sometimes wish I could take them year-round and kill every bit of bacteria in my body (except for the ones in my gut — I take a daily probiotic, of course. I guess just love biotics!), which I imagine would make me feel like superwoman.
My sinus infection got better, my bite faded. Then, two weeks after the first bite, two patches appeared on my right arm: one on the back of my upper arm and one on the inside of my forearm. At first, I thought they were ringworm, which I’ve been contracting regularly for the past few months (I’m a fucking mess), presumably from the dogs I take care of, so I put anti-fungal cream on both areas. When, a day later, the patches had only gotten worse, I finally realized it wasn’t ringworm. Whatever bit me the first time had bitten me again, and I was having the same reaction.
At this point, I started to wonder if they were bed bug bites (especially since I GULP had not an infestation, but a bit of an issue a couple of months ago AHHHH!), but my allergist friend said they didn’t look like it, and they didn’t follow the three bite pattern.
My research tells me the most likely culprit is mosquitos, but why would I suddenly have such an extreme reaction to mosquito bites when I never have before? Is it really possible for heartache to compromise a person’s immune system? Has a bug been lurking in my apartment desperate to eat me, patiently waiting for me to be single? Do bugs care about fidelity? Do I have triple Lyme disease? Can it spread on your skin? Am I going to die? That’s the only question I know the answer to: yes, eventually.
Actually, I know two other things, the first of which is that Doxycycline is always here for me. My dad accidentally prescribed me way too much so after a couple of days, once the bite on the back of my arm had consumed my entire tricep and begun to creep onto my bicep, I took a dose of antibiotics. After three doses over the course of three days, the bites faded so I’m a doctor now jk. I’ve thought about going to a real doctor, but why do that when I have antibiotics and know (more or less) how to take them?
Here’s the last thing I know: something’s eating me and I’d like it to stop. Hopefully it will. Hopefully this is the end. Hopefully I’ll move on from this weird time of sadness and huge, infected bug bites. Hopefully I already have.
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares about my health problems. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, antibiotics or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!