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09 Nov

I never would have guessed a mere seven days post total knee replacement in early October that I would be in the midst of fighting a diagnosis of having Lyme Disease that affected my Central Nervous System!  While I do not remember anything for at least the next five days, my family stayed by my bedside dealing with the fact that I exhibited classic signs of having a significant stroke.  Thanks to family, friends, at least seven physician specialists, other healthcare professionals, and many prayer chain connections, I can now say thirty three days later that I am nearly finished with all physical therapy visits and only one week to go to complete my 30-day daily IV antibiotic therapy.  At this time I have virtually no lingering symptoms of the dark days I and my family went through and am very happy to be back to my old self!

However, I want to share some of the research I have done about Lyme disease since this episode occurred.  The deer ticks that transmit the disease are most active between April through September.  And yes, my husband and I spend time daily outdoors and we were outside in our perennial gardens frequently during September and early October in an attempt to ready the gardens for winter.  I never did see any early symptoms that include the typical bulls-eye rash nor did I have any unusual joint pain.

So here are some of my findings about this tickborne disease (www.huffingtonpost.com):

1.  You can only get Lyme disease from a tick bite There is no evidence this can be spread from person to person and you cannot get it from your dog.  However, dogs can bring ticks into your home so be sure to inspect your pet for ticks before letting them in your home. 

2.  Not all ticks carry Lyme disease.  Blacklegged ticks are the ones you want to avoid.  Of all the deer that wander around on our property, little did we know that they would leave us an infected deer tick. 

3.  You can probably remove the tick by yourself if you notice it in time.  A female adult deer tick is about the size of a sesame seed while the male is a bit smaller.  A nymph, or immature, deer tick infects humans with this disease more often and is only the size of a poppy seed.  You can purchase a tick removal device or use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick no matter the size.

4.  The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a bulls-eye rash.  This rash occurs between 3 – 30 days after becoming infected.  Other symptoms include fatigue, headache, joint swelling and dizziness, none of which I experienced. 

5.  You can take precautions to prevent Lyme disease.  The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease recommends wearing light-colored long-sleeved pants and shirts to make ticks easier to spot.  Clothing should be sprayed with Permethrin repellent and skin should be sprayed with Deet.  (I found that REPEL makes Clothing and Gear Spray as well as 100% Deet spray to use on exposed skin as a repellent for mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, biting flies and fleas.  Both were available on www.walgreeens.com or www.repel.com)  In addition, it is advised to check and thoroughly wash your scalp, armpits and groin areas upon coming indoors. 

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  It is a worldwide campaign event which promotes preventative measures which can be taken against Lyme disease.  You can count on me to revisit this topic as we approach the month of May 2016 to once again make you aware of the need to protect yourself and loved ones from the amazing power of something so small as a deer tick in your yard.  If you plan to be outdoors in a shady grassland, a densely wooded area, or just spending time in your garden next spring, I suggest you prepare yourselves against deer ticks. 


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