Trevor Bayne has revealed that the unofficial diagnosis for the mystery illness that put him out of racing for two months in 2011 is that he had contracted Lyme Disease.
The condition is the result of the bite of an infected tick, and can result in a fever, headache, fatigue, depression and a distinctive circular skin rash, although symptoms are inconsistent and vary from person to person.
"It's such a hard thing to define," said Bayne, explaining why even now doctors were reluctant to give a definite, official diagnosis. "[It's] something that hides in your bloodstream. It is hard to diagnose.
"All you can look at with Lyme is a rash. I had already had medication for it, so it can hide," Bayne added.
Bayne initially fell ill after driving in the Sprint Cup race in Texas in April 2011 when he complained of numbness in his arm. He was treated at hospital and quickly released, but over the coming days started to experience other symptoms including blurred vision, nausea and fatigue.
An alarmed Roush Fenway Racing management immediately dispatched him to the specialist Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for extensive tests and observation, and Bayne missed over two months of racing in the Nationwide Series as well as a chance to run in the All-Star exhibition event at Charlotte that he had qualified for with his shock Daytona 500 win earlier in the year.
When Bayne returned to racing duties in July, no public diagnosis was given other than a vague reference to an "inflammatory condition." But as far as he is concerned, Bayne is confident that Lyme disease is the correct explanation.
"Obviously, they treated me for Lyme the last time and everything went away," he said. "If they treat it and it goes away, to me that seems like a pretty good answer."
Left untreated, Lyme disease can have a serious effect on the heart, nerves and joints. But the condition responds well to antibiotics, particularly if caught early, and the top-of-the-line medical care Bayne received from day one should ensure that there are no long-term after-effects from the illness.
"I'm feeling good ... I feel fine," Bayne insisted. "I've been working out pretty hard again. I know I don't look much buffer, but I've been working out."