Letter: It's time for those daily tick checks
Ticks are out. Ticks are active above 42 degrees, but don't trust that. With warmer weather and lack of snow cover, I've gotten bitten twice in November and now in April. I went for a walk in Springside Park, Pittsfield, for one hour with Permethrin-soaked boots and appropriate clothing and found a deer tick embedded in my shoulder late that night when I did my daily tick check before bed.
Five tick bites and five deadly co-infections later, I will now do a tick check every day the moment I come in from outside because I was in the emergency room until 3:30 in the morning. They did an excellent removal of the tick and they can be very hard to remove. But the 200 mg of doxycycline they gave me for treatment is about as effective as giving me two baby aspirins. I follow the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society's (ilads.org) protocol because had I followed that the first time and every time I may not have ended up hallucinating and near death from Chronic Lyme Disease, which just means I wasn't medicated appropriately for that first, fully engorged tick bite I presented with at the emergency room. And I didn't get a bull's-eye rash, so I thought I was safe. Had I followed the ILADS' protocol, I might not have spent years getting sicker and sicker with a "mystery illness" until I was diagnosed clinically — by symptoms only. My Lyme tests were misleading as Lyme tests are highly inaccurate.
Ask for the tick back, in a plastic jar or bag, with a moist paper towel inside and send it to UMass Amherst Labs (tickreport.com), where they carry out expert identification of ticks and the disease-causing pathogens they carry. That could save you thousands of dollars later in testing if you do become sick from Lyme Disease and its many co-infections.
Have a plan in place before you get bitten, which emergency room you will go to and have a copy of the ILADS' protocol (ilads.org/lyme/treatment-guideline.php) in your glove compartment at all times, and ask for that. Photograph your bite at every stage and have a Lyme-literate doctor's phone number ready to get the recommended treatment immediately and also get tested for the co-infections. Every minute counts, because once the Lyme bacteria multiply in your body, they are hard to eradicate. The faster and more correctly you are treated, the better your chances are for not ending up with chronic, debilitating Lyme Disease and its co-infections. Then Google "Berkshire Lyme" to become Lyme literate. Your life depends upon it.
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