I posted this last year on my original blog at HomeschoolBlogger, but after finding a tick crawling on me last night, I decided I'd post it here as well since it is that time of year...
Several years ago, following a camping trip to the Washington D.C. area, I developed a terrible illness that was eventually determined to be Lyme disease. Thankfully, I found a doctor that was quick to treat me and though the illness really took a toll on me physically, I have recovered completely with no known lasting effects.
So, with ‘my history’ in mind, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that finding a tick on my children, husband or myself can make me just a wee bit uneasy. In fact, there was a time that I would literally get sick to my stomach at a mere sighting of a tick. This week, I realized that I no longer freak out when a tick is spotted. I can even pull a tick off a member of my family and not feel ill. I’ve realized that we can take precautions against ticks and still find one crawling on our skin. Though I would hope that my family and friends would not develop such a serious illness, I have chosen to no longer live in fear. But, I also hope that people could and would be educated to the real dangers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Ticks that transmit Lyme disease are most active in May, June and July. As a precaution you should always use insect repellant with 20-30% DEET (though I'm not big on using a ton of chemicals, I've personally not found a natural alternative that works, if you have one I'd love to hear about it) when in tick infested areas. Wear light clothing so you can see the ticks easily. Check your children and yourself frequently for ticks after spending time outdoors, especially the armpits, scalp and groin areas. Remove embedded ticks immediately with fine-tipped tweezers and clean the area with an antiseptic.
It is important to note that many people diagnosed with Lyme disease do not remember ever having a tick bite. Ticks carrying the disease are often in the smaller nymph stage, making detection more difficult. Early symptoms may include a bull’s eye shaped rash, fever, weakness, headache, chills and muscle and joint pain. Late symptoms can include arthritis, meningitis and even death. Early detection and treatment are essential. If you suspect that you have or could have Lyme disease, see a physician right away and educate yourself. Lyme disease often goes undetected and/or is misdiagnosed. You may need to go to more than one doctor. I did.
A very controversial documentary called Under Our Skin was released last year. Personally, I don't think I could watch the movie. Not at this point. Just watching excerpts from the film on YouTube made me bawl, because I can relate to those on the film and I realize just how fortunate I am. When I sought out medical attention, I also was told that I had Lupus, early stages of MS or Rheumatoid Arthritis, given pain killers and sent home. Having this disease was one of the scariest times of my life. I truly believed that I was dying. Thankfully, the Lord led me to just the right doctor that recognized my symptoms and treated me as such. There are many, many people that have not been as fortunate. Please take the time to educate yourself further to the dangers of Lyme disease and take a moment to watch the clip below from the movie. I'm living proof that Lyme disease is real.
It's important to know that not all ticks are carriers of the disease. Here are a few websites that offer information as well:
The Lyme Disease Foundation
The Mayo Clinic