Last year, US Women’s Soccer Captain Christine Rampone showed us how Lyme disease can affect anyone, but US Track runner, Perry Fields, had a much different, and longer, struggle than Rampone that she’s sharing in her medical memoir.
In 2003, Perry was a highly ranked runner who had recently graduated from college. While outside at a festival, she was bitten by a tick. Having grown up in the country, she didn’t give it a second thought when she found and removed it two days later. She felt as if she had the flu for a few weeks but then all symptoms of any disease subsided and she continued her running training.
Two years later, at the US Track and Field Championships, Perry was the favorite to win. During her 800m race she started to lose feeling in her arms and legs and finished the race in dead last. She had no idea what happened. It wasn’t until her mother noticed her scratching her neck and a visible bull’s-eye rash on her neck, that she knew she had Lyme disease (a full two years after the initial tick bite).
The Lyme diagnosis was the beginning of a four and half year struggle with chronic Lyme disease. Antibiotics didn’t work to get rid of the Lyme, in fact, Perry got worse. It eventually led to meningitis and severe depression. Instead of giving up, Perry decided to take matters into her own hands and did enormous amounts of research on alternative ways to battle this debilitating disease.
Four years later, Perry describes herself as faster and healthier than she was pre-Lyme. She’s become a health coach and is in the process of qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials. To help those that suffer with chronic Lyme disease, she’s published a book, The Tick Slayer, about her struggle and how she was able to overcome the odds and get better.
Athletes like Perry and Christine Rampone show us that Lyme disease really can affect anyone, even healthy, leading US athletes. In a year when ticks are expected to be worse than ever, it’s important to make sure to continue to check yourself after spending any time outdoors. If you are interested in learning about ways to help get rid of ticks around you, please visit Mosquito Squad’s tick control page of our website.
Thank you to Perry Fields for her wonderful story.