Brandi is a 42-year old married mother of boys that love the outdoors, hiking, biking and playing all sports. Her story is unique to our Lyme disease series in that she discovered a nymph tick on her three-year old son after coming home from work one day. She was very aware of Lyme disease and took great care of doing consistent tick checks on her sons, as well as, herself and husband any time they and been outdoors. She immediately called Corey’s pediatrician after carefully and properly removing the tick and saving it to be tested. At that point Corey did not have any symptoms but she persuaded his pediatrician to start him on antibiotics immediately. The doctor was reluctant to continue treatment two weeks later and within a couple of days Corey had a temperature of 104 degrees, was sensitive to light, had headaches and could not walk across the room. Brandi immediately reached out to a Lyme literate doctor who tested Corey and found a number of co-infections and started him on a treatment plan. Brandi is a pediatric nurse and her knowledge about the disease was a key in treating Corey’s early localized Lyme proactively and bringing him back to health.
My name is Brandi. I live in Yosemite National Park. I am 42 years old. It’s actually my son who has Lyme Disease so I was his caretaker and he was three years old when he contracted Lyme Disease. We spend a lot of time outdoors, we love hiking, biking, running. Cory played football. He enjoys basketball. We’re just very active and outdoors and love going to lakes and traveling. So when Cory was three years old I came home from work and he had a little red mark on the back of his arm. It looked like a freckle and it was red around it so I held it up to the light and I was able to see that there was legs. I knew right away, my heart sank, I knew it was a tick and so I removed his tick right then on the spot. We used tweezers and we just twisted clockwise and we were able to get the head. It was a nymph tick, it was a very small, poppy seed-sized tick. Knowing that the nymph tick is a little bit prevalent to be carrying Lyme Disease, I was worried at that point so I knew that we needed to have that tick tested immediately.
I actually called his pediatrician in the morning and got him an appointment and we started antibiotics the next day. At that point he did not have any symptoms. His doctor was only willing to treat for two weeks because he wasn’t familiar with Lyme. But at the end of the two-week period he still had the rash, but he wasn’t showing any other symptoms so the doctor was reluctant to continue treatment but I talked him into it. So he did give us another two weeks, at which time we thought “okay the rash was cleared up, he’s not showing any symptoms, let’s go ahead and stop the antibiotics.” We did that and within two days he had a temperature of 104, he couldn’t walk across the room, very sensitive to light, headaches. He was three and very active but he couldn’t walk into the grocery store just from going from the car to the door so I’d have to carry him. I contacted his doctor and he basically said he was not comfortable treating ‘cause he didn’t know anything about Lyme. I knew of a Lyme-literate doctor that I could call ‘cause my friend was being treated by him as well.
I made a phone call and was able to get him in the following week, in which time he did deteriorate. The fevers would come, they’d be really high and then they would drop. The light sensitivity and headaches. His hands were hurting. Cory, um, at the time again was unable to walk ten feet without laying down on the floor. He was having nightmares. He just wasn’t our son. He has just always been our, you know, crazy child, and he couldn’t walk across the living room. I strong-armed his doctor into ordering some testing in between to just see if there were some kind of co-infection going on. He was positive for Lyme and he had a co-infection of Ehrlichia. They explained to us what the test results actually meant, and then they started him on a treatment plan. The treatment plan consisted of antibiotics and to just monitor for symptoms, and he seemed to improve but it took several months. And we had to pull him out of preschool ‘cause he just couldn’t keep up. He wanted to sleep all day at preschool so we had to pull him out.
I was a wreck ‘cause I’m a pediatric nurse. Seeing my baby sick is so much different than seeing anybody else’s baby sick. I was a mess, but I just knew that this for me was a way that I needed to be making people aware, and so when Cory started to get a little better we started doing Lyme awareness walks, and I started sharing more information with his pediatrician. For me it kind of put me in a position of “Well if you’re not going to know about it, I’m going to teach you about it.” Early antibiotic treatment was the key. I believe he had a great outcome because we were proactive and we pushed. We didn’t give up and we didn’t say “Okay, you know, Lyme isn’t here.” Or “Lyme isn’t, you know, anywhere.” His outcome is very much a part of us pushing and being proactive in that. I, um, actually do counsel some people. I will tell them the same thing, that you need to have that tick tested. Whatever it came back positive for, that that’s… you know, your child was exposed to that. I do try to encourage parents to ask for treatment for the tick bite because you don’t know what that testing is going to come back as and it can take a week or two, but that’s the time you can do a course of antibiotics. So I do encourage parents if your kids are outside, definitely need to prevent the tick bite, that’s key. But if they are bit, do not throw that tick away. I hear that so much and I feel like I’m shouting it from the rooftops and people will say, “oh I threw it away.” Uh, it’s frustrating. Keep the tick.
Watching Cory get that sick that fast was very concerning to me. For him to go from the super active kid, dirt biking and just outside playing all the time to he would just lay down on the part of the couch where the arm was and just pass out. You wonder, “Am I on the right antibiotic? Is there something else we can do?” It was a waiting game. There was slow progression with him. We finished up antibiotics eight months after the tick bite. I definitely would say it was up and down because there was some times where his hips were hurting so bad he couldn’t walk. Just kind of seeing the progression of him getting better and then he would kind of get worse again, is frustrating. He kind of bounced right back into things. He loves going out and jumping on the trampoline, hiking. He’s just back to himself and it’s great to see. Our doctor kind of warned us if he breaks a bone he might kind of flare up again with his Lyme, so we were a little nervous. He’s done it three times. And he bounces right back, so we’re just super fortunate that the outcome is what it is.
INTERVIEWER: Is Cory around here?
INTERVIEWER: Why don’t you sit down on that box.
INTERVIEWER: So, um, how old are you now?
CORY: I’m eleven.
INTERVIEWER: You’re eleven years old?
INTERVIEWER: Tell me what you like to do.
CORY: I like to play with my friends, watch Netflix. I want to play basketball again. I kind of want to play soccer. I like to basically do everything. I thank her a lot for helping me ‘cause now Lyme doesn’t really affect me.
I think the important message is if you’re outside, you need to be aware that the tick, um, bite can cause a lot of problems. It’s not to be taken lightly. You get treatment and to remove the tick pr-appropriately, and, um, push your doctor because I think if for us if we didn’t push our doctor, we wouldn’t be where we are at right now.
CORY: Thanks, Mom.
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