Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Thousand Ughs

For the third time that I know of in the past year or two (I'm losing track), I've been infected by a tick. This could be a source of amusement, I suppose (my doctor calls me The Tick Magnet, or The Mine Sweeper), but this time I'm not amused.

This time I was bitten in the head, the least favorable site, the closest to the brain. This time the tick was attached for the maximum length of time (approximately 99 hours) before I found it. This time while the tick fed on and on I hugged and kissed and played with my 8-month-old grandson. This time, while blindly trying to remove the tick (it was on the back of my head), I managed to pop the contents of its fully engorged abdomen back into my bloodstream. Ugh. A thousand ughs.

This time, like the other times, I’m on my own, with very little confidence about what I’m doing. My doctor, an internist and very nice guy, isn't very knowledgeable about tick-borne illnesses. The rest of the local medical community (and indeed, throughout most of the U.S.) is the same. Even the infectious-disease specialists aren't on top of what is fast becoming a plague in the northeast. Last year I took what I thought was a radical step when I told my doctor I wanted to be on Doxycycline for a whole month—but then my veterinarian said, “Gee, Susan, we keep dogs on it for two months.”

This time I'm on Doxy for two months with a double daily dose. Doxy makes one highly sensitive to the sun; the first time I took it, I wasn't careful and lost a lot of hair, sunburned at the roots. Fortunately, it grew back. This time, on a double dose, I have to keep all of me covered outdoors. The double dose came from reading Dr. Joseph Burrascano’s treatment guidelines. If you even just glance at a few pages, you’ll see how complex is the issue of diagnosis and treatment. Lyme Disease websites are populated by people who seem to know a great deal about tick illness, but seem is the operative word. Some inspire more confidence than others, but I’m reluctant to blindly follow anyone's advice.

Most of the Lyme-knowledgeable people insist the only way to go is to find a Lyme-Literate MD and put yourself in his or her hands. This is what I know about LLMDs: They’re far away, they’re expensive, they prescribe some heavy-hitting (often IV) antibiotics, and they don’t accept insurance. One thing I don't know is how they got to be LL. Can any physician declare himself/herself to be Lyme-Literate? Who oversees LLMDs? Even the people who swear by their LLMDs don't seem to be getting better very quickly. I’m reluctant to invest in even the gas required to drive to one of these LLMDs without a lot more assurance that I’d get something out of it.

I just received a bottle of an anti-bacterial herb from the Rain Forest. I've read about it online, and one of my neighbors said his daughter had good results from taking it. Some say it kills the spiroketes carried by the tick; others say it simply drives the infection into hiding. Once again, who the hell knows? Directions on the bottle say to start with one drop. At least that much is clear.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

From my journal: June 6, 2005

Tonight I was doing dishes when a big fat fly landed on the vertical window frame in front of me. My first thought was to reach for the fly swatter, but while I've killed a lot of flies over the years these days I always hesitate, feeling that Jill is looking over my shoulder and disapproving. She never liked to kill anything. So while I was mentally debating the fly's demise, another thought came into my head: Place the edge of the fly swatter next to him. He will step onto it, and you can carry him to the other window and put him outside. Wondering where that thought came from, I said out loud, "That's ridiculous." Flies seem to recognize fly swatters, and I was certain any fly, including this one, would take off the instant I approached him with one in my hand.

The thought persisted. So I dried my hands, picked up a fly swatter, and reached out to the fly. I put the edge next to him, and in the process got a little too close and actually bumped him. He took a step backward. Then after a moment he stepped forward—onto the fly swatter. I carried it, with the fly aboard, to the window at the other end of the kitchen. Leaning over, I opened the window. When the fly got outside, he flew off.

Leave it to Jill to orchestrate miracles that don't involve obvious props like burning bushes and parting waters.