What it's Like to... Have Lyme Disease
By Kelsea Eckenroth
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Sammi Whitcup, a junior from Vienna, Va., was a junior in high school when she found out she had Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by a tick bite. Whitcup doesn’t know when she got the disease, but has had it for more than seven years.
I started showing symptoms in junior high and didn’t know what it was. The symptoms are vague, but my left knee kept swelling and I had no idea why. I was tired all the time and my dad wouldn’t be able to wake me up for school. The symptoms got worse by the time I was in high school, so I went to the doctor and got a blood test done. Blood tests aren’t always accurate and sometimes give a false negative, so the doctor drained fluid out of my knee and tested it for Lyme disease. The test came out positive.
My family was in the room with me when I found out. We were all really shocked and asked the doctor all kinds of questions like if there was treatment or if I would be able to be cured. I didn’t know if I was going to die or how serious the disease was. My initial thought was that it would kill me. I don’t even recall ever having a tick bite. I went to camp a lot growing up and Virginia has a lot of woods and trees, but I don’t know where I got the disease. The doctor told me there’s treatment for it, but it’s experimental treatment. I’ve had Lyme disease for so long that it’s chronic, so I’m going to have it for the rest of my life. I’m lucky because Lyme disease can also affect your brain and spine, but it only affected my major knee joint.