Category Archives: Ticks: Where It all Starts

Infected

C at Great Falls

Staying on boardwalk trails at Great Falls National Park in Virginia.

 

I’ve been thinking about the day I went hiking in a gorgeous old chestnut forest in Southern Maryland that is protected by a local land trust. Volunteers keep the trails beautifully manicured, with small limbs trimmed back and mulch on the paths.

This was my first long walk in years; treatment had finally gotten me to a  place where I figured I could handle it without crashing.

I felt I was relatively safe from ticks there, keeping out of underbrush, not brushing up agains branches. My boots and clothes were treated with bug-killing permethrin. I really looked forward to rambling about for an hour or so of fresh air, soaring trees, and bird song. Judging from the way he pranced along, my dog Mo was pretty excited, too.

IMG_5855

When I got home I did all the necessary things: Stripped, threw everything in the dryer on hot for 20  minutes to kill any ticks, took a shower, washed and dried my hair, checked my body.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I found a tick sucking on my leg. Who knows where it came from. Perhaps from Mo; my vet tells me no tick-killing products for pets are 100% effective.

It’s a myth that it takes at least 48 hours to become infected—more like a matter of hours. So I knew enough to call my Lyme doctor, who immediately increased my antibiotics (I was recovering from a tick bite more than two years before and still on meds). But it was already too late.  Continue reading

10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Lyme Disease

IV treatment. Pills. More pills. I can't believe I made it through all that. When it could have been avoided...

That’s the little portable pump for my IV drugs. Then there were the pills. More pills. Harsh meds that made me sicker so I could get better. I can’t believe I made it through all that. When it could have been avoided…

 

 

It’s 2016, and I’m finally climbing out of the Lyme hell I fell into blindly four-and-a-half years ago. If only I’d known more, sooner.

Maybe I can help someone, somewhere, by offering a few things I was shocked to learn. Frankly, it is damned hard to pick just 10 things. But here goes:  Continue reading

Video: “What Makes Ticks Stick”

If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate this,  a close-up view of how a tick attaches to people. These images may just stick in your mind and spur you to check for ticks daily.

Do ticks live through winter? Research says yes! You can’t protect yourself 100%, but we need to do all we can to lower the odds of getting Lyme—or getting reinfected.

Video: Pathologist Alan MacDonald Addresses Important Lyme Questions

If you’re like me, you want to know the latest scoop on what scientists are learning about Lyme disease. In this May 2013 interview we hear again from pathologist Alan MacDonald. (This interview is part 2 of a 3-part series, see the first one here). I’ve noted some key points you can jump to if you don’t have time to view the entire interview.

Continue reading

Garden of Evil?

Photo: LifeLoveLyme

Photo: LifeLoveLyme

After months of being severely limited by Lyme – worn out by an hour or two of daily activities and resigned to holding court on my red sofa for most of my waking hours – I am enjoying a period of respite from herxing between treatments as I build up my immune system for the next big round of IV antibiotics. Mind you, at the moment I still only have maybe a quarter of a tank of gas per day to run on, but that’s enough to get me a fraction beyond just the basics. It’s enough to allow me to drive myself to the weekend house all by myself on better days when I’ve planned well, which means an incredible sense of freedom. The first day, I settled in to read a stack of library books and a bagful of New Yorkers and simply…rest.  But yesterday I was seized by the exuberance of the season and went to the hardware store to pick up a small shovel and hot pink petunias. Continue reading

Do Ticks Survive Winter? Researchers Weigh In

DSC00038

I know, ugly photo. But it shows the flowerbed in my backyard where I got a tick embedded in my hip one summer. And a bull’s-eye rash soon after. And pretty soon was very, very ill.

As you can see, my garden is in a sad state these days. Last summer and fall I was too sick to clean it up—and besides, I was very afraid of the danger lurking there.

I said to myself, I’ll feel better in the winter. I’ll get rid of the dead things when the ticks are gone.

Flash forward to the middle of winter. Someone in my support group reported that she’d just come inside her house and done a complete tick check—in January. In Virginia.

And found a live deer tick. We were shocked.

I’d assumed that once temperatures dipped below freezing, ticks were done for ‘til spring. Now I know otherwise.

Here’s what I found out.

Continue reading

Video: Did You Know Ticks Can Transmit Lots of Infections—Like Babesiosis?

I’m very lucky to have wonderful neighbors. One of them, Marilyn, called me the other day to say she’d seen this segment of “Monsters Inside Me” on Discovery’s Animal Planet. It explores the case of a Lyme patient who was not recovering, and her doctor’s discovery that she had babesia caused by the parasite Babesia microti. Marilyn knows I’m being treated for Lyme and wanted to make sure I knew about this co-infection. She got the message: Lyme patients with babesia need treatment for that along with Lyme in order to recover. I’m also lucky to have a Lyme literate doctor who checked me for co-infections at the start because I had soaking night sweats, a key symptom; my treatment is going well. Babesia can also cause the spleen to rupture; read one patient’s story here. The good news is, babesia can be treated. But first it has to be diagnosed. Please, share this video to help get the word out. And if you want lots more information on babesia symptoms and treatment, see this video by Dr. Robert Horowitz of the Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center in New York.