This year is becoming one that I shall remember for the medical consequences of animal bites.
In March, I had the rare but painful experience of being bitten by a llama.
In June, I was bitten by a tick, and yesterday that took me to the doctor once more, to receive a message that could have significant long-term implications.
I knew what was wrong with me before I went. A brief bit of internet research had made me realise that I’d better get to the doctor without further delay. The circular red rash spreading out from the site of the bite is apparently an unmistakable diagnostic clue. I sat with the doctor and described the tick bite, followed weeks later by the rash, and more recently the headaches and tiredness. One brief look at the red circle on the side of my chest, and he agreed with me. I have Lyme Disease.
The normally jovial doctor had become rather alarmingly serious. He congratulated me on my diagnosis and emphasised how important it was to begin treatment immediately. He told me of a friend of his who had become paralysed on one side after not receiving prompt treatment. We discussed the merits of different antibiotics as he revelled in the luxury of a patient who had researched his illness. Then, while filling in the medical certificate he asked whether I wanted an ‘arrêt de travail’ (sick note to stop work). Although this would have entitled me to a daily payment for “loss of earnings”, it seemed over the top. I didn’t want to get into thinking I had a really serious illness. After all, it’s only potentially really serious at this stage . . . .
So here I go with another chance to explore the astonishing bureaucracy of what is, apparently, the best health system in the world! Lyme Disease is recognised as a ‘Professional Illness’ for farmers. Hence all fees and charges will be met fully by the compulsory insurance scheme. I’ve sent two copies of the medical certificate to the mutual insurer, along with three copies of the professional illness declaration. The local pharmacy has ordered in the very large quantity of antibiotics I have to take over the next 30 days. I now have to contact a nurse of my choice to come to take blood for testing. When I get the results of the blood tests I need to go back to the doctor so we can discuss the next stages of treatment.
It’s very relaxing, this rural life . . . . .
I think I shall now be keeping a more careful eye out for arthropods like this little chap.