Lyme Disease Prevention and Basics

Lyme Disease can be passed from a variety of ticks. Ticks can incredibly tiny, so much so that you may not even see one on your skin or in the hair of your pet. See: When ticks are in the nymph stages, they are especially hard to detect.

I have NO idea when I was bitten by a tick. You don't have to see the tick or get a rash to get Lyme disease. I have spent much of my life outdoors camping, mountain biking, hiking, running, rolling around in mud, and close to everything that I love in nature. One could have dropped in my hair (most of you know I have a large thick mane of black hair) and I would never have known it. I suspect this because it is theorized that patients with neuroborelliosis - Lyme that primarily affects the brain/nervous system (like myself) - were bitten on the head.

People ask me, "Oh how'd you get Lyme? You out in the Appalachians rolling around in the brush?" they laugh. I am not laughing when they ask me this because they have NO clue how it has ruined my life. "Oh why, yes, I was out on my tractor and then hopped off and rolled around in branches of trees and then cuddled with some deer." !!!

Ticks are all over California (contrary to what the general public thinks); in fact, they're in every state in the country and every continent on Earth besides Antarctica.

Northern California has a great deal of ticks.

I sat in GOLDEN GATE PARK last summer, a block from the concrete on my street (long after I had been diagnosed with late-stage Lyme) on a bench meditating, and noticed a tick that fell LITERALLY on my lap from a tree. I squashed it VENGEFULLY and INSTANTLY. Pretty scary. Just a few months ago, I found a tick INSIDE my parents' house right by the door!! I crushed it and flushed it down the toilet and had goosebumps thinking how such a small insect can destroy so many lives.

An EASY TIP: if you are out in the woods or even at a local park near grass, trees, etc., and sitting on a blanket (as I often do in the park), take it home immediately and THROW IT IN THE DRYER on HIGH for about 20-30 min. The hear will kill any ticks, microscopic or larger. Washing will not necessarily. I do this after every park visit. Same with clothing from hikes. Of course wash them, but drying them on high first will kill the ticks; then you can wash as usual.

DEFINITELY frontline your pets! Remember pets can harbor ticks in their fur and bring into the house, car easily. And they can get very sick from Lyme.

I hear about new Lyme cases every day in Northern California and it's so sad because most of them are people (mostly women) who have been sick for months or years and have no idea what is wrong with them and finally find a doctor or person who hinted at the possibility of Lyme. At that point, it's an uphill battle from hell. So please just take some basic precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones (and even your unloved ones, because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy).

Wear bug spray (there are many non-toxic alternatives to Deet that are just as effective including Repel and Natrepel) when in ANY wooded area, mountain biking, hiking, camping, etc. Top 6 insect repellents WITHOUT toxic Deet. A friend from my old Lyme Support Group swears by TKO Orange, a totally non-toxic cleaning agent made from the peel of oranges. It is apparently a natural bug repellent for humans AND pets. You can get it at Rainbow Co-op (in SF) or online.

If you own a home, you can surround it with Damminix tick tubes or other similar tick tubes (I dont think Dammnix protects against the CA Ixodes tick as a friend recently told me when trying to order them) that reduce 10-fold the exposure to ticks around your house and are EPA approved and environmentally safe.

If you need to remove a tick, don't freak out. I know plenty of people who've found ticks on them and are healthy to this day. Follow these instructions on proper tick removal with tweezers under "What to do if you are bitten." ALWAYS send a tick that bites you away for testing by a lab or health department.

The medical system has NO idea - I'd say 75-90% of doctors and medical professionals have NO idea how serious late-stage Lyme disease can become, how endemic areas actually are, where Lyme actually exists, how to diagnose it, what the symptoms are, and how to treat it. I know this from hundreds of stories friends from my Lyme community have shared. I know this from my own experience and having to fly half way across the country to find someone who knows how to treat this extremely complex disease. And it is becoming a major epidemic across not just our country but throughout the world.

Some quick facts about Lyme by CALDA, the California Lyme Disease Association, one of the largest non-profit groups in the country advocating for the rights of Lyme patients (esp late-stage Lyme patients who are misdiagnosed and abandoned by mainstream medicine):

CALDA Lyme Prevention Basics:

Lyme 101:

Basic Info about Lyme Disease from ILADS (the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society), a professional medical society of which Lyme-literate medical doctors (LLMDs) from all over the world are a member of:

I'll post more as I come across it. There is a lot out there and I don't want to overwhelm you but give you basic precautionary tips.

Some people have tested positive for Lyme and have no symptoms at understanding from researching this disease for 3 years now and asking a million questions any chance I get is that those people have a strong enough immune system to keep the Lyme and its co-infections under control (or the testing is inaccurate, which is a possibility as we know false negatives happen all the time).

The body can fight off Lyme naturally IF your immune system does its job. But there are SO many other factors involved. Sometimes the pathogenic load from these bugs is too much, and all of us have different thresholds and immune systems.

Then there is the S word: STRESS. I have personal evidence (and of course a strong belief) that stress will exacerbate or elicit any illness that is brewing in your body. I knew something wasn't right healthwise and was trying to figure it out, but I was healthy enough to work and function; when I started a very stressful job in June 2007 (one that I loved but that was EXTREMELY stressful - litigation as an attorney in fair housing/predatory lending, which was a completely new line of work for me, learning all about federal banking and housing laws and taking on a ton of cases all at once, commuting 3 hours roundtrip plus working 9-11 hrs a day), well let's just say that's when shit hit the fan.

And yes, California (esp Northern California, like Marin County and north and Los Altos, all those beautiful wooded areas) is endemic with ticks. Where there are deer and mice, there are ticks. BUT I don't think we should stop our lives. I cannot WAIT to get back on my mountain bike and go backpacking again. Even though I've been told by some that I will never be able to do those things again. Or work full-time as an attorney again. Or climb Kiliminjaro. Or do a triathalon. I'd like to personally tell them to fuck off. And I will when I take a picture of myself doing those things.

Anyhoo, I JUST want to educate people so they know how VERY serious this disease CAN become, and that you CAN prevent the onset of late-stage Lyme if you are aware of it early on. This disease can take you to the darkest edges of the Earth on and off for months, years, and for some unfortunate people decades. If I can prevent one person from having to go through the emotional, physical, existential, and financial ruin (that would be an understatement) that has characterized the last 4 years of my life, I will be happy.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the info Mona. I will do my best to keep my family safe!!