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'Something is really wrong' | Do you know the signs of Lyme disease?

Hiking and being in the woods, even being at the beach, can put you in the tick's environment. Take precautions to avoid Lyme Disease.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A warning before you go on that camping trip and nice long hike.  

May is “Tick Awareness Month” and if you plan to be in the woods, you should know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, which is caused by ticks.

The diagnosis process can be expensive and leave you asking Where’s the Money? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 30,000 people get Lyme disease every year, but they are quick to point out that the number might be 10 times higher because it’s often misdiagnosed and underreported.

This is Elyse’s story.

Outside is what Elyse Mickalonis is all about. Her love of long walks, vigorous hikes and anything outdoors including paddleboard yoga put her in the tick’s environment, and that eventually led to Lyme disease from a tick bite.

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Credit: Elyse Mickalonis

So, what were the signs? Well, you name it.

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“And all of the sudden my Apple Watch alerted me that my heart rate was 180 and I thought that can’t be right," Mickalonis said. "I thought something is really wrong." 

Credit: Elyse Mickalonis

Mickalonis felt faint, was dizzy, very fatigued and ended up in the ER for five hours with no answers. She had arthritic pain and seemed to often be in a neurological fog and confusion came easily.

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“I just kept getting exhausted, and I would get winded taking stairs,” Mickalonis told WCNC's Bill McGinty.

Elyse was tested for so many different things, all the while she kept asking to be tested for Lyme, eventually, she was, and that’s what it turned out to be.

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Credit: Elyse Mickalonis

Tick bites don’t always look the same, some can be as little as a poppy seed, some might just be a bruise, which is what happened to Mickalonis.  Doctors say symptoms can even mimic COVID-19.

Mickalonis now dresses differently outside and knows what to watch out for during outside activity. This problem, by the way, is everywhere, in all 50 states and other countries.

“Avoid places that are heavily occupied by ticks, leave piles, woodpiles, tall grass and beach grass,” said Mickalonis.

Wear light-colored clothing so you can spot them, check your body, your kids, and use bug spray and long pants if you can.  

Credit: Elyse Mickalonis

Also check the dog.  Elyse thinks she may have gotten Lyme from Clark (her dog) who often sleeps in her bed.  After months of antibiotics, she is finally feeling better and stronger. The running tally to treat her Lyme disease? $12,000 and climbing.

Credit: Elyse Mickalonis

“I actually today, going to get a little choked up, sorry, but I ran for the first time in 10 months, so, I am starting to feel better," Mickalonis said. 

Credit: Elyse Mickalonis

Lyme disease can be a long road.  If you are not feeling well and nothing seems to be the cause, have your Doctor check for this, it’s a blood test. 

Contact Bill McGinty at bmcginty@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook.