One of the things I hate MOST about my newfound knowledge of Lyme disease is that it’s made me more afraid of doing my favorite outdoor activities.
So far, I haven’t really had to face that fear in any real way. Formerly an enthusiastic hiker, camper and aspiring backpacker, I’ve not been well enough this last year+ to spend much time sleeping on the ground or charging up trails. And where I live in the middle of the city, I don’t have much concern day to day about vector borne illness.
BUT this is all about to change. Here at the beginning of month 11 of treatment, I am doing very well. 80% recovered, really. 90% on a good day. It’s time to get back outside! This time, I’ll be taking some precautions.
Here’s a quick list of things I’m doing to prevent reinfection:
- Bug spray: Coat clothes, packs, tents and gear with Permethrin spray and let dry. You can even spray dogs, apparently.
- Keep covered: I hike in long sleeves and pants with pants tucked into socks. I look like a nerd, but hey… I have Lyme disease. I have a right to be paranoid. Wearing light colors also help you spot ticks earlier.
- Tick checks: Do tick checks every day you’ve been outdoors. Check on heads, behind ears, in any folds and private bits too. This is more fun with a flirty partner. 🙂
- Check dogs and kids too: Less flirting in this scenario, obviously. Keep pets treated with preventative meds.
- Remove ticks carefully: If you get a tick, remove it the right way. I keep a set of tick tweezers in my pack. The key is to NOT squeeze the stomach – this will empty all contents and germs into your bloodstream.
- Save ticks for testing: If you get bit by a tick, save it to send into the lab for pathogen testing.
- Watch for symptoms: Know that Lyme is also likely transmitted in other ways. Mosquitos, fleas, flies, spiders and even human sexual fluids are all showing potential for transmission. We can’t live in fear. Just be familiar with symptoms and if you ever suspect anything, get a western blot ordered through igenex laboratory and get a doctor referral from ilads.org to help you interpret it.
That’s it! Now wish me luck on my first hike out… it’s a doozy!