Friday, October 28, 2011


It turns out it wasn't flu at all. My smart and competent internist, Erica Johnson, made the diagnosis with an antibody test. I had anaplasmosis, a rare tick-borne intracellular bacterium that causes myriad vague symptoms, some of which can be very serious.

Anaplasmosis causes chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, malaise, and confusion, all of which I had, plus cough, which I didn't have. It can also cause low white count, low platelet count, inflamed liver, and swollen spleen, all of which I had.

Anaplasmosis infects about one in a million people in the US each year. Mortality is under one percent, but some people have internal hemorrhage or respiratory failure. Not me, luckily. My lungs were if anything better than their asthmatic usual during this illness.

Best of all, anaplasmosis is easily treatable with a member of the tetracycline family. Ten days of doxycycline, and the infection will be crushed. Already my liver is almost back to normal, and I can eat and sleep and all those things I missed while sick.

As for ticks... well, we have a lot of them around here. When I go for a walk through the woods I find myself picking off tiny ticks for hours afterward. I haven't worried too much, because ticks can't pass on Lyme Disease until they've been attached for 24-48 hours. As for anaplasmosis, I don't know. Maybe it's faster.

The final thing Erica Johnson said when she called me with the news is that Anaplasmosis sounds like a character in Lexicon. I'll have to remember that. Maybe I can use it in Book Four.

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