Alec Baldwin has long been making headlines with his uncanny impersonations of Trump, but the actor made news for a very different reason this week. Baldwin unexpectedly opened up about a nearly two-decade battle with an illness he thought would kill him: Lyme disease.
According to People, Baldwin made an appearance at a recent LymeAid benefit put on by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation in order to help raise money for a disease he admitted has affected his own life tremendously.
“I got the classic Lyme disease [symptoms] for each successive summer for five years every August. [It was] like this black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed,” Baldwin told People.
So heed Baldwin's horrifying tale and do yourself a favor: Be sure to check yourself and your clothing after spending the day doing your favorite outdoor activity — especially if that activity involves tall grass (aka tick heaven).
Baldwin, who first got Lyme disease 17 years ago following a tick bite, now suffers from chronic Lyme disease. The illness is debilitating as well as difficult to diagnose, mainly because its initial symptoms are similar to the common flu. While Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics if caught early, if the disease is left untreated it can enter late-stage Lyme disease and become chronic, as in Baldwin’s case.
The National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke explains that as Lyme disease progresses the symptoms go from flu-like to something much worse. “Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease, with numbness, pain, weakness, Bell’s palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances and meningitis symptoms, such as fever, stiff neck and severe headache."
Other problems may not appear until weeks, months or years after a tick bite, according to the institute. These include decreased concentration, irritability, memory and sleep disorders as well as nerve damage in the arms and legs.
At the fundraiser, Baldwin recalled a terrifying moment during an extreme episode of his symptoms, saying: “I was alone. I wasn’t married at the time. I was divorced from my first wife. I was lying in bed saying, ‘I’m going to die of Lyme disease,’ and ‘I hope someone finds me and I’m not here for too long.’”
The relatively common tick-borne illness has been getting a lot of press recently with celebrities like Bella and Gigi Hadid taking a stand to spread awareness. But it’s important to remember just how serious a disease it can turn into if left untreated, and that you should be vigilant about tick bites going into the summer months.
And if Baldwin’s account of almost dying alone in his bed isn’t enough to get you checking your exposed skin for ticks after that invigorating hike, perhaps the most recent tick-related news will. According to US News & World Report, tick-borne illnesses are on the rise in the United States, and if that wasn’t scary enough, scientists are finding a new, potentially life-threatening disease in ticks called Powassan.