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Local woman says treatment has helped

April 16, 1999

Carol Engstromphoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Carol Engstrom's bout with Lyme disease hasn't changed her love for spending time outside.

[cont. from lifestyle]

She isn't sure how she contracted the bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected tick. She had plenty of chances to be exposed to ticks over the years while clearing her land along Antietam Creek and helping rehabilitate rodents, deer, bunnies and Canadian geese.

In the late 1980s, Engstrom began experiencing flu-like symptoms rather frequently. Then she got a burning sensation in her mouth, burning and tingling in her muscles and heart palpitations. At one point, she couldn't hold her neck upright and had to prop her arms up on pillows because she couldn't hold them up herself.

The symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease can include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches and fatigue, according to Arthritis Foundation. Those who are bitten may develop a large, expanding red skin rash around the spot where they were bitten that may feel hot to the touch but is generally not painful. The rashes also may look like a bull's-eye with a red ring and clear center.

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Engstrom's doctor tested her for every ailment she could think of, all of which came out negative. A neurologist ran tests and told her the problem was psychosomatic.

She was tested for Lyme disease in 1993.

"The test came back off the wall," she says.

After the diagnosis, Engstrom received intravenous treatment for 30 days. From there she began a one-year antibiotic treatment, taking in 3,000 milligrams of amoxicillin orally.

She's had some relapses, during which she takes antibiotics for a short period of time, but overall feels progressively healthier.

"It was a gradual getting better," says Engstrom, 53, of Hagerstown. "I don't feel I have an illness anymore. I just feel so lucky."

She still enjoys camping and gardening, but has stopped rehabilitating wildlife.

"I've not let it stop me from enjoying the outdoors," she says.

-- How to protect you and your pets

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