In the early 1970s, a cluster of 39 children who lived and played in heavily wooded areas of Lyme, Connecticut, experienced inexplicable symptoms of fever, joint and muscle pain, and neurological problems. The symptoms mimicked chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and in some cases, mental illness including depression and anxiety. The symptoms subsided and resolved in some children, while others experienced more debilitating and lifelong health problems. Similar symptoms appeared in children throughout New England and the upper Midwest. In every single case, the child had been bitten by a tick.
I was one of those children.
My life was turned upside down when I was 8 years old, after I was bitten by a tick playing in the woods of northern Minnesota. I went from a fun and adventurous little boy to sickly, bedridden, and depressed. Pediatricians made no sense of it and, of course, never asked about any tick bites. My symptoms eventually subsided but started to recur throughout my childhood, teenage years, and then into adulthood. I was never the same, and I never received a diagnosis. Not once did a doctor ask me about the tick bite.