Instead, Reagan Gotschi, 42, continues to battle the debilitating disease, and Steve Gotschi, 44, has become determined to help others in Loudoun County avoid the trials his family has faced.
Loudoun has one the highest rates of Lyme infection in the United States, and the highest rate in Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 200 confirmed cases of Lyme were reported in Loudoun last year.
The Loudoun Lyme 5K run will be Sunday at the National Conference Center in Leesburg. Proceeds will go to the National Capital Lyme Disease Association. In addition to the run and a 1K walk for families, the event will have educational outreach by county health officials, Lyme disease experts, medical and veterinary specialists and local politicians — including Delegates Barbara J. Comstock (R), Thomas Davis Rust (R) and Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R) — who have advocated for legislation supporting Lyme disease research and awareness. There will also be vendors and sponsors from the community, Steve Gotschi said.
The illness, which is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected tick, is prevalent in rural and suburban areas inhabited by wild rodents, deer and other mammals that attract the parasitic insects. Loudoun, with its open fields and grassy areas, paired with a rapidly rising population, is a particular hot spot for the disease.
More than 24,000 confirmed new cases of Lyme disease were diagnosed in the United States in 2009, according to the CDC, but the number might be far higher, because the disease’s symptoms mimic other illnesses. As a result, many cases are not properly diagnosed.
Gotschi said he hopes that educating the community might spare others the stress and pain of his wife’s experience.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” said Gotschi. He, his wife and two of their four children live in Leesburg. “She’d have her good days, and she’d have her bad days when she could barely get off the couch.”
It started with vague complaints of tingling and numbness in her arms and hands when she was driving, he said. Gotschi, who owns DryHomes Roofing and Siding in Sterling, was accustomed to occasional aches and pains as a side effect of his job and didn’t think much of it, he said.
“I thought it was just a nerve issue,” he said. “I thought it would subside.”
It didn’t. In the course of a year, Reagan Gotschi had countless appointments with doctors and specialists, two exploratory surgeries to determine the source of pelvic pain, numerous medications and worsening symptoms, including headaches, extreme fatigue, memory loss, aches and pains, and soaring heart rates that sent her to the emergency room more than once.