For a patient with Lyme disease–like symptoms, the biggest challenge is finding a specialist who understands her condition.

“Back home after three days, I peeled off my clothes for a long-overdue shower. Reflected in the bathroom mirror was a rash the shape of a bull’s-eye, blooming bright red on my left hip. A crimson omen on soft, pale flesh. After dinner I developed a fever that alternately froze and scalded me. My joints turned to piercing shards of glass, and pain stabbed my left temple. My vision blurred, and my eyes became so sensitive that I flinched when my husband, Kevin, turned on an overhead light.

The words Lyme disease flashed through my aching brain. A decade earlier I’d heard the term mentioned ominously on a hiking trip in the White Mountains. Yet despite my years of trail running, hiking, and camping, I’d never done so much as a single check for ticks. And were sick ticks even a problem in the South? As I recalled, only ticks in New England had Lyme disease, and not all of them were carriers of it.

A few minutes on Google confirmed that the bull’s-eye rash was a clear sign of Lyme disease. I read that antibiotics, administered early, could zap the corkscrew-shaped bacteria and prevent their wreaking long-term havoc on the patient’s brain, muscles, and joints.

But, I learned, antibiotics don’t work for everyone.”

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