Last summer, 11-year-old Gus was beyond excited to attend his first Boy Scout campout without his parents.
“Me and my husband believed he’d be fine on the trip because he’s super independent, but I remember telling my husband I was worried about ticks because how often does an 11-year-old reapply spray?” Gus’s mom, Lesley, explained.
Nevertheless, she and her husband let their son venture off from Illinois to upper Wisconsin for a week away over the Fourth of July holiday.
When Gus returned, Lesley said they did a “tick check from head to toe” but found nothing and figured he was “in the clear.”
However, near the end of July, Gus came down with a high fever and a migraine that wouldn’t go away. After checking in with his pediatrician, Lesley chalked it up to a virus. But when his headache persisted after a week and a half, they went back to the doctor, who suggested giving it another day before sending Gus for an MRI to rule out a tumor.
To Lesley’s relief, her son’s headache was gone the next day. Since the family was heading to Michigan for vacation, Gus’s pediatrician suggested he get the MRI when they return. Yet, as soon as the family arrived in Michigan, things took a turn for the worse.
“I looked across the table at Gus and I noticed he tried to take a drink and he couldn’t get his mouth to work. It was hanging low. He said one side of his face felt weird,” Lesley said.
She rushed him to the nearest emergency room. By the time they arrived, Gus couldn’t blink or close his left eye. His condition was diagnosed as Bell’s palsy.
Over the course of the week, he continued to deteriorate.
“By the time we got home from Michigan, he almost couldn’t walk. His hips, knees, ankles, and lower back were in so much pain that he said it felt like someone had a vice on all his joints,” Lesley said.
On their first night back home, Gus couldn’t sleep and woke his mom, so she took him downstairs to watch TV.
That’s when Lesley noticed her son’s legs, chest, and back were covered with a bull’s-eye rash — a common symptom of Lyme disease that can occur from 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bite and usually doesn’t itch or cause pain.
In the morning, Lesley took Gus back to his doctor. By the time they arrived, the rash was gone. Thankfully, Lesley thought to take pictures of the rash the night before and the images prompted Gus’s pediatrician to test him for Lyme disease right away.