Sunday, July 26, 2015


In Nantcket Photo by: Troy
Two weeks ago yesterday, I awoke with intense head, hip, and back pain, covered in sweat, with a fever, and swollen lymph nodes. By noon, after dropping Troy off at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, SPAC, for ballet class (which I had planned on taking in preparation for that evening’s NYCB Gala), I sat in a cold, sterile hospital room, alone. For the next five hours I was poked and prodded. I was stabbed three times as they tried to take blood (supposedly my veins are tricky), given a crystal light flavored solution to drink for a procedure, and pumped with radioactive fluids during the CT scan, all while an IV of fluids ran through my body. I sat alone in the freezing, bright, uncomfortable 8 X 6 room. Troy came rushing to the hospital after he was finished performing in the matinee and kept me company as we awaited the test results. Hours of wondering passed, with scared thoughts running through my head as I sat staring, waiting for life to come into the ice box to provide answers.

And then I was told that there was no infection or irregular levels in my blood and that the CT scan showed signs that possibly a cyst burst as there were some fluids in the pelvic area. The doctor could not explain the fever, night sweats, or lymph node swelling but concluded that I probably had a cyst that burst.

It was now five o’clock. I was not allowed to perform that night so Troy took me home. As we drove I had a sandwich and felt a sense of relief as supposedly we had answers.

That evening I was in bed by 6:30pm and slept till 10:30am the next morning, hoping to wake feeling like new.

The pelvic pain was gone but new pains now existed. I began to feel my lower back ache that eventually traveled up spine and into my neck and jaw. I lay low that weekend, attaching a smile to my face as our Saratoga house hosted a pig roast. That night the pain grew, and the night sweats continued.

It’s now Tuesday and I was hoping to be able to dance, yet something wasn’t right. I hadn’t danced since Friday and yet I had intense joint, back, spine, neck, and jaw pain and a migraine like pressure that never seemed to go away. I became sensitive to light and my forehead seemed to appear different. As we drove in to SPAC I began to think something was really wrong. I abruptly turned to Troy and said, “I want to go home, back to the city.” He was confused and thought that I was feeling better. I explained to him that I had been trying to put on a happy face so that I wasn't a drag in the house. I knew something was wrong. Even if I was cleared to dance by the gynecologist, I knew, physically, I just couldn’t. I no longer could bend over and touch my toes, I couldn't touch my chin to my chest, I couldn’t move. I saw Marika Molnar for physical therapy hoping she could get my back to release, though at that point I had already made up my mind…I was going home. And Troy was coming with me. I was not about to go through more poking and probing alone again.

Within two hours, we were driving back to the city. I had an appointment with an internal medicine doctor the next day.

Wednesday morning was like the past five mornings, I woke up covered in sweat. Though just as we were about to sit down and have a morning cup of joe for Troy and for me tea, I noticed a light pink circle with a darker purple center-like rash, the largest one behind my left knee. I had four on my right leg, a few on my rear end, and two on my back.

Rash Photo by: Troy
Troy began to help me write a time line of events, symptoms, and travel locations to later help serve me while retelling this ordeal to the doctor. He also did some Google research and had an inkling that I had Lyme disease. Before the rash showed up, we thought I had meningitis. Even though I was not feeling well, with intense pain throughout my body and in my joints and spine, my migraine head pressure, sensitivity to light, and this new gross looking rash, I was happy to be in my own apartment. We were hopeful that this doctor and Weill Cornell Medical Center would figure this out, but I was also done being in the hospital/urgent care and dreaded this fourth visit to a medical facility.

As we jumped in a cab headed to West 84th street I was beyond scared. Thankfully Troy was there to be with me.

We entered the elevator and soon were checked in awaiting my name to be announced through the open doorway. A few minutes after my scheduled appointment time the nurse called “Mrs. Laracey.” Soon my vitals were recorded and the doctor was in the room. I retrieved my timeline and notes and explained each detail as she took notes herself. After a short examination, she began by saying that she was pretty sure that this was a “textbook” case of Lyme disease and that she was going to take blood and send it to the lab for extensive testing. In the meantime, I was to start on a 21 day dose of Doxycycline, the protocol for Lyme. She explained that she was going to do a full tick panel to make sure that in addition to the Lyme I didn't have one of the other three tick-borne illness parasites. But those test results would take up to five days to get back.

Troy and I walked the four blocks to Duane Reade to collect my new prescription, talking as we walked and thankful that we had answers. As I stood on the corner of 88th and Broadway, I took a swig of water and downed my first dose, hoping to feel more like myself soon.

A few days later, my aches and pain symptoms started to slowly ease and fade, yet the migraine head pressure remained. After day six of no activity and no dance (day three of antibiotics) I felt up to attempting a ballet barre. So I got myself to the theater and lightly gave myself a ballet class. I could barely stand up and had no strength but it felt good to be able to move a little. Each day got better and better, and I was able to do more and more of ballet class.

This past Monday, Troy and I traveled to Nantucket for the Nantucket Dance Festival where Troy had a ballet being performed. The piece is a bit unconventional in that its original performance was at the Players Club in New York City in 2012. The piece was a duet for NYCB principal dancer Jared Angle and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. I was heading to Nantucket to support Troy and his piece, also able to take ballet class every day with the festival and rehearse myself in Concerto Barocco for my upcoming debut in Vail on August 9th.

Doctor's Orders Photo by: Me
Tuesday I found myself sitting outside enjoying lunch and some quiet brief moments before heading into the theater to watch Troy’s piece when my cell phone rings. It is my doctor from New York. She explains that in addition to the Lyme I tested positive for Babesiosis and need to see an infectious disease doctor right away. I immediately run inside the theater and explain to the stage manager that I need to find a doctor ASAP. A very quiet-spoken woman interrupts me and says “Grab your things; I will walk you to the hospital across the street to see the Lyme specialist on the island.” Dr. Timothy Lepore is a leading man in tick illnesses and squeezed me in right away. He concluded from my lab results that I was one of those rare souls that got bitten by a nasty tick carrying both Lyme and Babesiosis. “Lucky me”, I thought. He listened to my long story of events and said I was a text book case of Lyme and Babesiosis and that the migraine and head pressure plus fever are signature symptoms of Babesiosis. He called in two additional antibiotics, one a pill, the other a thick golden liquid. Dr. Lepore said “ Take the gold liquid with fatty foods. We recommend French fries.” I thought to myself… “When in Rome! He said eat French fries, by golly French fries it is!”

After seeing Dr. Lepore, the fifth doctor in ten days, my ordeal seemed to finally have full answers and proper diagnoses. I walked back to the theater, hopped in my car and drove to pick up my prescriptions. By the time I finished, Troy was through with his rehearsal and we were off to Fifty Six Union for French fries and a pop. Doctor’s orders.
 I am fortunate to have been in Nantucket, supporting Troy in his choreographic endeavors, to be only steps away from the leading man in tick disease. Check yourself for ticks!

Now that I’m on the road to recovery, stay tuned for more BalletCollective news! Next stop …Telluride!


  1. wow Ashley, what an ordeal. Wishing you a very speedy recovery.

  2. Hi Ashley, I was so happy to see you looking fully recovered at Vail, and what's more changing roles at the last moment. I frankly wasn't expecting to see you dancing after this ordeal. Keep well.

  3. Dear Ashley, I am so sorry to read of your horrible ordeal.I only found you because I am using a new tablet and trying to "connect" all my dots. Happy to find you but very sorry you have been so ill. I will bookmark this and hopefully not loose you again. Take care my dear! ����

  4. Well you see, I cannot even say who I am. I need a lesson. This is Vicki Schneider. Please take care Ashley!

  5. Wow! First, I am so sorry that you went through all of that, it must have been terrifying. What are the odds that you'd actually be bitten by a tic that carried both diseases? I'm so happy you were near someone who was actually able to find a solution. Being in nature, especially camping and fishing, is one of the best things life has to offer, but those uninvited bugs always come in and ruin the fun!