Back to School Safety: Ticks

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Tick on finger

Hello and Happy Late Summer everyone! I have recently joined the New Harmony Wellness team as a written word contributor; I will be writing press releases, blogging, and posting social media content. I am very excited about my role here, and helping spread the word about all the healing and good living that the New Harmony Wellness Center brings to our clients. Welcome to my first blog post!

Lyme Disease Safety Tips - New Harmony Wellness

A few weeks ago, after a few days of having the worst “flu” of my life, my husband took a peek at my back, and said…nothing. I didn’t have to ask, but I did anyway: Do you see the bullseye? His silence confirmed my worst fear. I had Lyme Disease.

Until then, this had been the greatest summer! Using the Essex County Trails Association website as my guide, I would hike for miles and hours with my dog Josie, nearly every day. I left my sales office job in March, and decided to clear my head of the years of cubicle cobwebs this summer by returning to nature. The Northshore is an absolute treasure trove of beautiful places to explore, by foot, hoof, and paddle. My husband and I moved to Beverly from Somerville, and as a nature-crazy kid, I was looking forward to the breather our surroundings had to offer. The benefits of simply walking in the woods go beyond the physical, as this recent New York Times blog post: How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain

The day I found a deer tick latched to my leg was one of our best hiking days; tromping through such varied terrain, dense woods down to the pine forested banks of the Ipswich River, back up to the open fields scattered with cross country jumps that border Bradley Palmer State Park. We saw evidence of beaver, a couple of wood toads, a giant garter snake, and Josie chased a flock of wild turkeys into the trees. Sunny and hot. The day had everything you wanted in a summer afternoon.

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I was home and sitting on my back steps when I looked down to flick a fleck of dirt of my calf. Only, this fleck didn’t budge. It had legs. And boy, was it attached. I honestly couldn’t believe it. As a life-long equestrian and outdoorsy type, I had heard all the warnings before – deer ticks are tiny, and they can transmit Lyme – but knowing just how small they were, I never thought I would ever find one! My cavalier attitude about ticks continued as I posted the photo showing just how tiny the thing was to my Instagram account. Life moved on for about a month. And then I got sick.

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I started feeling bad on Thursday, July 2, and missed all of the 4th of July fireworks and bbq’s this year, too sick to leave the house. Finally, after no improvement and two nights of a shivering fever in 80 degree weather, and upon the discovery of that tell-tale bullseye, I went to the emergency room on Sunday the 5th. The emergency room nurse took my temp: 103.3. I began a 3 week course of doxycycline that day. The next day, I sent a note to Bryn Clark at the NHWC, letting him know that I needed to take a break from the writing to recover for a few days. He responded immediately, reassuring me that deadlines could be pushed, that healing was the most important thing, and to come in as soon as I could to begin a course of his Lyme Remedy, a optimistically named proprietary blend of Chinese herbs formulated specifically to combat the Lyme spirochetes that, if left untreated, could live hidden in the body affecting my health for years to come. It was such a relief, knowing that my one job was to get better, as well as having a the double whammy plan of attack of Western and Eastern medicine against the Lyme. I picked up my two week supply of Lyme Remedy that same day.

This will sound hyperbolic, but I assure you it’s not: I felt like a million bucks within 24 hours. I wondered to myself, and aloud to my husband, how I could tell what exactly was making me feel better. Not even just “better” – but SO GOOD. I felt vital. I felt thankful. I felt like a new leaf had turned in my life, and this peaceful gratitude permeated everything I did. I had caught the Lyme early, which was a huge relief, but the way I felt went even beyond that. Since I had started the antibiotics at essentially the same time as the herbal remedy, I was curious to know which was making me feel so good, and how. For the most part, I was just thrilled and beyond relieved that I felt better, and left it at that for a week.

Fast forward to the day I ran out of the Lyme Remedy. I had the final dose in the morning, and by that afternoon, I felt a marked decrease in energy. I felt tired. Less…vital. I chalked it up to it being a hot summer day, but the feeling persisted into the next day. And the next. I finally had my control experiment. I went about a week without the supplemental herbal remedy, and the difference in how I felt was almost night and day.

I am glad to say I am back on the Lyme Remedy, and doing great. I plan to continue to take it as insurance even after the antibiotic course is complete. Josie and I had even gone on a few hikes!

My story may be a cautionary tale, but we can all enjoy the many health benefits of nature safely. The threat of Lyme Disease should not stop anyone from enjoying the great natural resources that surround us, but the possibility should inform our decisions when out in nature. Here are a few easy ways to protect yourself, your family, and your pets:

 

  • CLOTHING: A word of caution: you will look like a total nerd, but the best defense are as follows: long pants, tucked into socks. Wear a hat or a bandana and long sleeves. Light colored clothes make spotting ticks easier, and running a lint roller over yourself and your companion, be they human, horse, or dog, will help pick up any ticks hitching a ride, prior to a bite.
  • REPELLENT: There are many great and effective all natural recipes using essential oils for repelling ticks. One I have personally found effective is adding 20-30 drops of peppermint oil to 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. This is safe for kids and pets as well! There are many others as well – contact us for more!
  • POST-HIKE: Change your clothes and take a shower once you get home. Popping your clothes in the dryer for a cycle before washing them will also kill anything hitching a ride. Check for ticks, especially along the hairline and ears and on any areas of exposed skin. Check your dog’s ear flaps and folds, under the collar or harness line, under the tail, armpits, and in between their toes and pads. Running a thin comb over them can help on a dark colored and/or long haired dog.

Tick season doesn’t end when school starts, so arm yourself with knowledge, essential oil up, and get on out there!

 

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