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.
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
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.
I’m pretty sure most people around the world who aren’t living with Lyme think the symptom list is this simple and straightforward:
- bull’s-eye rash
- flu-like symptoms
And I reckon that this false belief is a major reason persistent Lyme disease continues to be missed in people with a wide range of complaints physical, cognitive, and emotional.
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.
Everyone, everywhere should read these tips from experts at the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), reproduced here from the ILADS website with permission.
Chronic Lyme disease patients may face a long hard fight to wellness. People with chronic Lyme can have many debilitating symptoms, including severe fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and joint pain. Without proper treatment, chronic Lyme patients have a poorer quality of life than patients with diabetes or a heart condition.
The fact is Lyme is a complex disease that can be highly difficult to diagnose. Reliable diagnostic tests are not yet available which leaves many—patients and physicians alike—relying on the so called “telltale signs” of Lyme disease: discovery of a tick on the skin, a bull’s eye rash, and possibly joint pain. However, ILADS research indicates that only 50%-60% of patients recall a tick bite; the rash is reported in only 35% to 60% of patients; and joint swelling typically occurs in only 20% to 30% of patients. Given the prevalent use of over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, joint inflammation is often masked.