I would have liked to take a more active role in activities and dialogues happening this month around Lyme Disease Awareness. I planned to post a lot more and help people remember that this disease is real and it can happen to anyone. But, to be honest, I have had a lot of struggles this year and I can’t find the energy and drive within me to get more done in a day than I already am–which means waking up, spending time in an infrared sauna to help my body detox, getting ready for the day and then the next 2-3 hours of my day is spent doing things like ordering meds, paying bills… all the necessities that come with being an adult; then I crash. To nap is not a luxury, it is a necessity. When I lay down in the afternoon, I fall asleep as soon as my eyes close. On the days I don’t nap it is safe to say I’ve been consuming more than just my one cup of coffee in the morning.
What Do I Want You to Know About Lyme Disease?
It is preventable.
Lyme Disease is something you can absolutely protect yourself against. It isn’t avoidable but you play a HUGE role in protecting yourself and your family. I assure you that ignorance is not bliss in this situation. I tell my story because I want you to know this disease is devastating and will take over your life if it is left untreated for too long.
When I got sick, I removed as many chemicals from our home that I could, but one thing I will still use is bug spray. From the reading I’ve done on creditable sites like ILADS and our local health unit, the best form of bug spray contains deet. Believe me when I say I HATE spraying that on myself… but I feel like it is the lesser of two evils in this case. Paranoia and fear haunt me when I step off my deck without bug spray; I can’t imagine a life where I am bitten again and I pray it never happens.
I also make bug spray with essential oils and combine it with traditional bug spray. There is also clothing you can buy that has built-in “insect shield”. When I am out at my in-law’s farm or walking through trails, I take extra precautions; I tuck my pants into my insect-shield socks and I put my hair into a bun with an insect shield hair wrap. I also have a long sleeve shirt and tights with insect shield. This might sound over the top, but I’d rather be a little over the top and be able to walk and remain independent.
Wearing light clothes also helps. If there is a tick you are more likely to see it… but please don’t forget ticks can be so small you might not notice them: some can be as small as a poppy seed. Next time you’re at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks take a peek at those poppy seed muffins and remind yourself how tiny those seeds are (and now you’ll never want to eat a poppy seed muffin again).
Last, but not least: Amber.
No, not the Amber who you went to high school with. I am talking about fossilized tree resin, an orangish-yellow stone, most often used as teething necklaces for babies. It turns out amber is also an insect repellant so I wear an amber necklace as well.
When you get back indoors, do a tick check. If you find a tick in you, remove it carefully and as soon as possible. Smothering it with soap or essential oil is likely not the best idea. Our local health unit has tick removal kits and instructions on how to remove it safely. Next, bring that tick to the health unit for surveillance and testing and see your doctor right away.
I also protect our dog. I want to keep him healthy–and it helps keep us safe too. If he gets bitten, he might bring that tick into the house where it could fall off and bite one of us. To keep Elliot safe, I use Bravecto, which we purchase from our vet and I’ve also bought him a collar made of amber and on the leather part of the collar I use insect-repelling essential oils.
This may all seem like a lot of work and I agree – this takes a bit of extra time but it is definitely worth the effort. We take our health for granted, it is something we don’t really consider until we lose it. I’d much rather be spending my days taking my dog for a walk, at the gym, teaching yoga, working and enjoying all the other activities that come with life – but instead, today as I write this – I am in bed. It has been four years since I was bitten and I still haven’t regained my quality of life I once had. Taking those few extra minutes each day would be a worthwhile trade for not getting sick.
How Can You Help?
Spread the word! Knowledge is power. Take a moment and participate in the Lyme Disease Challenge and Take A Bite Out of Lyme.
1. TAKE A BITE – bite into a slice of lime and take a photo or video
2. SHARE A FACT – state one brief fact about Lyme Disease
3. PASS IT ON – challenge someone else to Take A Bite!
4. POST IT – post the picture or video to your Facebook or Instagram accounts with the hashtags #lymediseasechallenge and #takeabiteoutoflyme – and you can also tag @lymediseasechallenge on Facebook and Instagram
For more about Lyme Disease Awareness you can also check out the interview I did with one of our local radio stations, Q104. There are some great statistics about Lyme Disease and ticks in the Northwestern Ontario region. Click on the picture to read the article: