I am surrounded by ticks.
No, seriously. And I’m not just talking about all the recent media coverage of ticks and Lyme disease, like this New Yorker article on Lyme disease, or the fact that I devoted a chunk of my recent book to Lyme disease, the controversy surrounding the chronic Lyme diagnosis, and the role of social media in this polarization.
There are deer ticks everywhere in my lovely neighborhood sanctuary. I have pulled ticks off my husband’s legs, my daughter’s arms, and have had them crawling across the lens of my glasses. Most of the neighbors on my street have had Lyme disease at least once, and a town social media message board frequently has posts about people getting diagnosed with it, or advice on how to prevent it.
I am so hyper-aware of them that my two-year-old climbed up on my husband’s lap and tilted his head back.
“Daddy, let me check your neck. Ticks really like necks!” she told him. On the bright side, at least I know she is listening and absorbing, right?
We do thorough tick checks as soon as come in and every night. I try to wear long pants or light colors as often as we can, and when she’s wearing dark pants in the grass I tuck them into her socks. I scour her thick blond curls and scalp. We use organic methods of tick control in our yard.
Not everyone who gets bitten by a tick knows it, or gets the telltale bull’s-eye rash. Symptoms of Lyme disease can mimic many other conditions, and there is a lot of debate surrounding the accuracy of the basic Lyme blood test. It feels like it’s everywhere here in New England, yet feels so inscrutable, too.
I am fortunate that we have doctors who have extremely low thresholds for testing for Lyme, and live in a community where it is very much part of the public consciousness. But still, even with information, awareness, and prevention strategies, I feel a little besieged when I step out into our leafy, seemingly peaceful yard. Misdiagnosed and/or untreated Lyme, chronic Lyme, and Lyme’s co-infections are nasty business. I don’t want to run to the doctor every time we have unexplained symptoms like achiness, fatigue, or swelling, but I also don’t want to take chances.
I thought it was a great time to link to the Q&A on chronic Lyme and Lyme’s co-infections I did with my friend, fellow writer, and chronic Lyme patient Jennifer Crystal. It’s definitely worth a read, as is her more recent recap of news coverage over at her blog, Touched By Lyme.
Tell me, readers, do you live in an area with a lot of deer ticks? Is Lyme disease on your mind all the time in these summer months? Have any tips or tricks to share?