Lyme disease prevalent in Morrison County

Larry Godejohn of Lincoln was diagnosed in March

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Larry Godejohn of Lincoln was diagnosed with Lyme disease in March. He has a feeling he was bit by a deer tick last fall.

“My first symptoms were pain in my right knee and right shoulder in March,” he said. “It was definitely joint pain and since I had surgery on my knee years ago, I went to an orthopedic doctor.”

Larry Godejohn, Lincoln, was diagnosed in March with Lyme disease. Symptoms included joint pain and fatigue. Incidents of Lyme disease have been diagnosed in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Godejohn received a cortisone shot that alleviated the pain for five days. The pain returned, but this time both on his right side and his left shoulder.

“That’s when I realized it was not an orthopedic problem,” said Godejohn. After that, the worst of the symptoms came on fast.

He went to his physician who, after a checkup, said Godejohn had classic Lyme disease symptoms. He began treatment with four kinds of antibiotics.

Godejohn’s hands and right knee became swollen. The knee eventually returned to normal, but on bad days, his hands still become so swollen he cannot make a fist or twist off a bottle cap.

“Lyme disease seems to travel in my body,” he said. “The pain and swelling can be in my hands and wrist one day, then in my knee the next.”

The antibiotic regimen has seemed to improve the situation. Godejohn said that in the beginning, there were more bad days than good days. Now he has more good days than bad. But when they are bad, he needs to walk with a cane.

“I was kept awake at night because of the pain,” he said. “Because my body just wouldn’t work for me, I found it hard to even turn over.”

Godejohn’s wife, Shirley, kept fresh ice packs on his knee throughout the nights.

During the day, because she wouldn’t leave him at home alone, Shirley would bring her husband to Staples Sports Lincoln, the business they own together.

“There were times when he was unable to get up from a chair without help,” she said. “I had him taking calls and doing book work.”

Godejohn said he never saw the tick, nor did he have the classic bulls eye marking. But, he was very fatigued.

“When I look back, I would fall fast asleep on the couch within five minutes of sitting down after work,” he said. “I also felt stiff and sore when I woke up. I just thought it was old age or arthritis. It was probably the Lyme disease symptoms.”

Since March, Godejohn has lost 20 pounds. He thinks he had the disease all winter, but that things did not get bad until this spring.

“Lyme disease is very prevalent in the Lincoln Lakes area,” he said. “I’ll bet that seven out of 10 people who walk through my door tell me they either had it or know someone who did.”

Godejohn’s doctor has told him the recovery will be slow, but he will recover.

This bout with Lyme disease won’t change his activities, Godejohn said.

“I like to go into the woods too much to stop. But, I will be more diligent and check for ticks each time,” he said. “If anyone gets a deer tick bite, don’t mess around. Get to the doctor and insist on antibiotics right away.”

Dr. James Gehant, Family Medical Center in Little Falls, said that ticks also carry ehrlichiosis (now called anaplasmosis). He said the difference between that and Lyme disease is that the latter comes on slower and usually has the red bulls eye rash.

“Anaplasmosis is almost as prevalent in Morrison County as Lyme disease,” he said. “People will get ill quicker and will still have the fatigue and sweats. But, with treatment, the disease goes away quickly. With Lyme disease, the symptoms may linger and the effects could be long-term.”

When in the nymph stage, Gehant said the deer ticks are more infected than when they are adults. And, not all deer ticks are infected with Lyme disease. He also said the tick needs to be attached 24 – 48 hours to transmit the disease.

Gehant said he had anaplasmosis, that included chills and fever.

“I never saw the tick,” he said. “I thought I had been in the sun too long and had heat stroke. I still went to work, but needed lots of rest between patients.”

Gehant then realized that heat stroke doesn’t last for days, so he had a blood test and learned he had a tick-borne illness.

An adult will be given the antibiotic doxycycline for both Lyme and anaplasmosis. A child and a pregnant woman will be given amoxicillin.

“I have seen two children will Bells Palsy, a result of Lyme disease that causes drooping faces,” said Gehant. “If both sides of the face are affected, then it’s definitely Lyme disease. It can move from one side of the face to the other, or affect both sides at the same time.”

Antibiotics will clear up anaplasmosis, but if one waits, it could cause death.