The Bullseye We Didn’t Want to Hit
I was just joking with my friends yesterday that it’s too bad that my children are too old for me to check them for ticks every night. I’ve been a broken record these days. “Check yourself.” “Did you check yourself?” “Make sure you check yourself.” Sometimes I get a “yes”, sometimes a “no”. Often I get a sigh or a laugh.
Today, despite all of my efforts, I received this picture from my son:
A flood of emotions immediately began to take away my peace -panic, fear, anger, frustration and sadness. I had just heard of a paralyzing tick borne illness in Saratoga, just south of us. And this is Cole’s second battle with Lyme Disease. My husband, thankfully home, reminded me that we can’t worry about what’s in God’s hands. I pressed pause on my emotions by refocusing my thoughts. There was a lot to be thankful for in the midst of it all. For one, Cole developed the ‘classic’ rash that made the diagnosis certain. No unreliable testing, no wondering, no questioning. Just treat. For many people, the rash never develops, or they develop a non-classic rash, and this complicates the diagnosis. Or they get a tick bite and don’t know what to do. I was also thankful that we were able to talk to his doctor and have a script called in within an hour. Finally, based on his only other symptoms of aching joints, it seems we have caught it in an early stage. So now, we’re choosing to fight with Doxycycline and prayer as our first line of defense. It’s in God’s hands.
There is a lot of angst surrounding the topic of tick-borne illnesses (it’s not just Lyme disease we need to be concerned about at this point)… so much angst that some have chosen not to go outside in nature for fear of a tick bite. And I get that. I cringe when I think about my kids going for a hike, playing soccer, mowing the lawn, walking through the yard, holding the cat, playing with our dogs, etc. Sadly, these tics are so tiny that they can go unnoticed, even when on an obvious site like your forearm, and can be mistaken for a bug bite. Even when you are doing all that you can to prevent it from happening.
So what can we do in light of this very real threat to our health?
I suggest that we don’t stop living. Instead, we should continue to do all we can to prevent tick borne illness, as if it all depended on us, and to pray as if it all depended on God. That means receiving knowledge about Lyme disease and strategies that we can take to help prevent it. And then it means responding to the knowledge that we have received. In this case it means doing our best to do what we know is best. I know it’s a major inconvenience, much like the dreaded task of having to apply sunblock day in and day out. It can get really old and it’s easy to get lazy. I know that from experience. But it’s worth every inconvenient second you spend. Finally, it means rippling what you have learned by passing it along to others. Talk to your kids and especially your teens, who need to both appreciate the seriousness of Lyme and learn to responsibly check themselves for ticks, especially in the areas that ticks like to go. Talk to your friends and family members. Talk to anyone that will listen. You can make a difference in the lives of others.
Speaking of rippling, I’m thankful for my friend, Hannah, who brought supplies to a recent wellness group and helped us all to make an Essential Oil based tic repellant. I’m going to encourage my kids to use this spray more often. Here’s a recipe you can use if you want to make your own as well:
Homemade Bug Spray
Total Time: 2 minutes Serves: 30
½ cup witch hazel
½ cup apple cider vinegar
40 drops essential oils (eucalyptus, lemongrass, citronella, tea tree or rosemary)
one 8 ounce glass spray bottle
Mix witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and essential oils in 8 ounce glass spray bottle.
Spray over all portions of the body but avoid repellent in eyes and mouth.
Other ways to help prevent tick bites:
Shower within 2 hours of potential exposure.
Dry clothes at high heat for 10 minutes.
Nightly tick checks especially in warm dark areas and areas of tight clothing (groin, armpits, thighs etc.) Remember, ticks can be even smaller than a poppy seed.
Remove leaf litter and wood piles from your yard.
DEET sprays are effective but there is a toxicity concern when using them, especially in children.
Permethrin coated clothing.
Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants that make ticks easier to spot.
Use natural tick repellants such as essential oil based sprays.
Guinea hens eat ticks.
Buffer zone of gravel in yard may be effective.
Spraying yard with acaricides ? effective. More research needed.
Keep up do date when it comes to tick prevention in your pets. We use the Seresto brand collars and they seem to be effective. Both of our dogs get the lyme vaccine.
Do your best to keep your pets off of beds and furniture. This is SOO hard. We have a cat that somehow manages to end up on Cole’s bed every morning. We’ll never know for sure, but it’s entirely possible that the tick that bit Cole first took a ride on Martin the cat.
If you do discover a tick on your skin, the best way to remove it is to use fine-tipped tweezers and pull firmly and repeatedly on the tick’s mouth part – not the body – until the tick releases its hold. Using vaseline as an attempt to smother it or other techniques can actually increase the risk of transmission.
Here are a few web sites you can check out to learn more about Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Treatment (Natural vs. Conventional) + Prevention Tips https://draxe.com/natural-strategies-to-cure-lyme-disease/
10 Essential Facts About Lyme Disease http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/10-essential-facts-about-lyme-disease/
Why 2017 May Be a Very Bad Year For Lyme Disease https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/04/06/2017-may-very-bad-year-lyme-disease/100120496/
Information about Lyme Disease on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.