By David Owen
At the U.S. Open at Shinnecock in 1995, I heard a rumor that a well-known sportswriter had Lyme disease. The sportswriter was famous for covering tournaments without actually setting foot on the course, and someone commented that the only way he could have gotten Lyme disease was if you could get it from limes.
Now I have it. Lyme is so common where I live that I don't remember whether this is the fifth time or the sixth. I've become pretty good at self-diagnosis, although as I've gotten older I've noticed that the symptoms of Lyme (including achy joints, fatigue, and tingly arms and legs) can be hard to distinguish from the symptoms of middle age. At any rate, two days after my brother's member-guest, I developed a fever of 100-plus, in addition to all the other stuff. I've been taking doxycycline twice a day since then.
Doxycycline has an annoying side effect: it makes your skin extraordinarily sensitive to sunlight. I learned that the hard way a dozen years ago, when I got Lyme in October. I forgot all about the sun problem, played golf for two days in southern New Jersey without sunscreen, and wondered why my face and lips were burning -- a problem that took days, or possibly weeks, to go away. This time, I'm being careful to wear long pants, long sleeves, rain gloves, and a hat, plus plenty of sunscreen.
The long pants are good for tick protection, too. I bought two new pairs: some Nike Dri-Fit pants -- in a color called "bone" -- which I already owned in black:
And these "insect-blocker" pants, from Columbia, which are impregnated with the insecticide permethrin. I ordered them from REI. One of the reviewers on the REI website had complained that the pants seemed too lightweight to stand up to rugged hiking, but that's a good thing for summer golf. (REI members receive rebates on purchases. Memberships last for life, and I joined more than 40 years ago, when I was in high school and my goal was to become a mountain man/poet, but I hadn't ordered anything since. A customer service representative found my membership number almost immediately, by searching for my parents' old phone number.)
I was worried at first that the other guys at the club would call me "Permethrin Pants" when I showed up without shorts, but so far everybody's been pretty decent.