Lyme Disease Explained

By Dr. Robert Wallace

July 21, 2020 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: I have been dating a guy for almost a year now, even though we are both only 16. Last week, we were talking about COVID-19, and he said that he and his family have never gotten it, but that a year ago, his big brother had Lyme disease. What is Lyme disease? Is it a venereal disease? I'm too embarrassed to ask my friends about this in case the answer is really weird or scary, but my curiosity about this is really driving me crazy.

When my boyfriend brought this up, I was kind of shocked and embarrassed, and I didn't want him to know that I was unaware of what it was. All I said at the time was, "Well, at least he didn't have lemon disease!" My boyfriend had a good laugh over that and even said it was so funny that he was going to tell my joke to his brother. Hopefully, this is something I'll never have to deal with. — Uninformed Girl, via email

UNINFORMED GIRL: Lyme disease is not a venereal disease. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. Most times, Lyme disease is contracted while hiking or spending time in wooded, brushy or overgrown areas, where ticks live.

Lyme disease, if untreated, can be painful and can sometimes cause severe swelling in the joints. Once a deer tick bites a human being, the affected person can develop a nasty skin rash, and flulike symptoms can often arise as well. In these times of COVID-19, some of the symptoms are similar, which can be alarming, but experienced physicians will note the skin rash and correctly diagnose the problem.

The symptoms associated with Lyme disease can appear up to 30 days after infection, according to the American Council on Science and Health.


DR. WALLACE: I'm 17 and in a relationship with a guy who is a year older than I am. We usually get along great, and I like him a lot. He is tall, dark and handsome, and I can add that he also has a good sense of humor — a trait of his that I thoroughly enjoy.

My boyfriend often says he loves me, but sometimes, his actions make me wonder just how devoted he truly is. He does not hesitate to break a date with me when one of his close guy friends calls and wants him to play poker, go to a sporting event or even work on an old car engine. When I complain about this, he just says: "Babe, I hardly ever see my friends. You know how much time I already spend with you." We go on dates several nights a week, but what bothers me is that he's quick to make a change when a new opportunity pops up at the last minute.

Every time we make a date these days, I make him say, "I promise I'll keep our date," but he will still occasionally go back on his promise. Do you think I should try to get him to change to my way of thinking? Or should I end the relationship and look for someone who is more concerned with keeping me happy? I do get mad sometimes, but he has never snuck around dating other girls when he's made these last-minute changes. I've even run into him and his friends accidentally a few times when this has happened, and he was with exactly who he said he'd be with. In fact, he made a big deal about introducing me to all of his friends, and he even gave me a big, warm hug right in front of them. So, I'm definitely torn over all of this! — Sometimes a Second Priority

SOMETIMES A SECOND PRIORITY: It appears that, at times, your boyfriend is definitely more interested in hanging out with his buddies than he is with taking you out as he had originally planned and promised. But it does sound as though he spends a lot of time with you each week as well.

There are strong and weak points here for you to consider. You are well aware of the weak side; you certainly don't like to have him bail out on you at the last minute! But on the strong side, he's remained loyal to you; he's proud of you; he's been honest with you. So, how about a good old-fashioned compromise? See if you can get him to schedule some time with his guy friends in advance so that your plans won't be disrupted so often. Perhaps you could each agree to one short-notice cancellation per month. This way, if something truly great came up for him or you, you'd have agreed in advance, as a couple, that this would be acceptable once a month. And I suggest you use your monthly change in plans, too! This will let him see the other side of the situation when it happens to him.

This may help him to prioritize his schedule and still allow him plenty of time to see his friends — and, of course, continue to spend quality time each week with you.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Kranich17 at Pixabay

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