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06/10/2012

Posted by thetickthatbitme in Choline Diet, Reblogs.
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Great post about the importance of choline intake during pregnacy.

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Curious about Tick-borne Infections? 04/21/2012

Posted by thetickthatbitme in TBI Facts.
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Happy Saturday, loyal readers!

I thought I’d point out that I’ve added a new section to the blog: Infection Fact Sheets. One of my goals with this blog is to give you, my readers, access to as much factual information about tick-borne infectious diseases–or TBIDs, as I like to abbreviate them–as possible.

Since you’ve stumbled upon this blog, I’m sure you’ve heard of Lyme Disease, but do you know the name of the bacterium that causes it? Are you familiar with the common and not-so-common symptoms? What about the different drugs that are used to treat this infection? Check out the fact sheet here.

And let’s not forget Borrelia hermsii, which I consider to be like Lyme’s neglected ugly stepsister. Nope, no press for Ms. B. hermsii… Take pity on her (or if not her, me, a hermsii survivor) and pay a visit to her fact sheet.

Poor Borrelia hermsii… No one talks about her.

If I were truly going to put my teacher hat on and plan a lesson for you, I’d tell you to make a K-W-L chart and take notes!

Once you’re done with the Borrelia sisters, you’ll probably be hungering (or worrying?) for more TBID info. Here’s a list of what’s to come: Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis (WA-1), Ehrlichiosis, Rickettsia (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), and more!

This Season’s Ticking Bomb – WSJ.com 04/19/2012

Posted by thetickthatbitme in Media.
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Looking forward to spring? I’ve really been enjoying the extra daylight and walks with my dog, Lucy, after dinner, and it was so nice on Easter to be able to wear a dress without my legs getting cold!

Lucy is ready for a walk.

Nice weather, however, comes at a price. An article published last month in the Wall Street Journal explains how warming weather will contribute to an increase in tick population (and likely an increase in the number of tick-borne infections) this spring. You can (and should) read the full article here.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about a study the Centers for Disease Control are doing:

The CDC is conducting the first study of its kind to determine whether spraying the yard for ticks can not only kill pests, but also reduce human disease. Participating households agreed to be randomly assigned a single spray with a common pesticide, bifenthrin, or one that contained water, without knowing which they would receive.

Paul Mead, chief of epidemiology and surveillance activity at CDC’s bacterial-illness branch, says preliminary results from about 1,500 households indicate that a spray reduced the tick population by 60%.

“But there was far less of a reduction in tick encounters and illness,” indicating that even a sharp drop in tick populations leaves infected ones behind. “We may have to completely wipe out ticks to get an effect on human illness,” he says. The CDC is enrolling households for a second arm of the study and expects final results late in the fall. Organic repellents such as Alaska cedar are also being tested in other studies.

The article includes an interactive graphic with some suggestions for how to avoid tick bites in your backyard:

  • Store firewood and bird feeders (birds carry ticks too!) away from the house.
  • Keep leaves raked and grass mown.
  • Restrict use of plants that may attract deer.
  • Keep pets away from wood (and woods) and use tick repellant.
  • Use decks, tile, and gravel close to the house.
  • Seal up any holes in stone walls that mice might want to nest in. (And make sure your house is rodent-free!)
  • Shower immediately after spending time outdoors in possibly tick-infested areas.
  • Wash and dry clothing worn for hiking or golfing at high temperatures.

I’ve been trying a natural, non-toxic flea and tick repellant on Lucy (and myself) that’s made from cedar oil.  What will you be doing this spring to avoid ticks (and thereby tick bites)?

Why I’m starting this blog 04/17/2012

Posted by thetickthatbitme in meta-blog.
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1. When I first started having problems, I thought I was alone. I even thought, some of the time, that the problems were just in my head. I thought my overwhelming fatigue was just from me working too hard. When I took time off, I thought the fatigue was just laziness. I thought the pain was just from the back surgery I’d had, even though I was supposed to be fully recovered within 6 months and my surgeon said my images looked good. If I hadn’t had the help of my family, especially my father, who I’m lucky is a physician specializing in infectious disease, I would have gone undiagnosed for who knows how long. So here’s reason number one: awareness.

2. Knowledge is power. Most people don’t understand until they get really sick how difficult doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies can be–most of the time, dealing with any of the three just makes me feel sicker! I want to share with you what I’ve learned during my many patient experiences, in the hopes that that information will help you advocate for yourself.

3. There’s a lot of misinformation out there–and by out there, I mean not only on the Internet but also in books and some doctors’ offices. I am not a physician, but I am a smart cookie; I read voraciously, ask a lot of questions, and take good notes. I’m an educator with a research background, and I understand more about statistics and research methodology than the average bear. I also have access to a variety of medical journals and other resources that the average patient does not. I am not the sort of person who’ll let a question go unanswered if I can help it.

4. When I started getting treated for Borrelia hermsii, my doctor invited me to join a support group for other patients. I don’t think I’d ever joined a support group for anything prior to this, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. A lot of doctors don’t really endorse what I call the touchy-feely aspect of patient care. They underestimate the power of the patient’s emotional state. Lucky for me, my doctor isn’t like that. He is professional and runs a clean clinic, as every doctor should, but it is also a place filled with laughter and music. When I met the other hermsii patients, who were in various phases of their treatment, it was suddenly as if I’d broken through a wall. When it comes to most of my other health problems, I don’t have any friends or colleagues who can relate–most people have a hard time believing I’ve gone through what I have at my age. At the hermsii group, though, they all connected with me instantly. Everyone had something to contribute. Everyone listened. I was amazed at how educated my fellow patients had become about our affliction and at the sophisticated nature of the questions that they posed to the doctor. As a teacher, I marveled at the dynamic of this learning community. As a human being, I marveled at the healing that went on in that hour and a half, without drugs or machines (though I don’t deny the necessity of IV antibiotics in the treatment of hermsii). During that meeting, I wished that every patient with a tick-borne infection could be in that room with us to ask questions, to listen, to find proper treatment, and to heal. This blog is my effort to expand that room to include all patients who need answers and who want to share their stories.

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