The following is a guest blog by By Janet L. DeCesare, author of the book Ticked Off!:
Planting Seeds of Knowledge for Lyme Disease Awareness
Ticks known to be infected with Lyme disease are becoming more prevalent in the United States, which is prompting officials to issue warnings to hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to keep their eyes open. Much of the U.S. had an extremely mild winter, which means these little arachnids are going to be a problem for many. I know all too well what having Lyme disease is like to live with; I contracted Lyme in 1995, along with a co-infection called Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever. I was compelled to write a book about my own personal journey and prayed that the struggles I encountered will inspire other Lyme disease victims and their caregivers.
In the process of dealing with this disease, I became very ill, which led me to write in a journal what I was experiencing. Throughout those treacherous years of suffering with a mystery disease that no one understood, or had even heard of, I knew I was in for a battle for survival. It is so important to me to share this information with you because I was not prepared for what I had to deal with. Through understanding and finding doctors who know what Lyme disease is, I am finally accepting my journey and getting on with life. Over time, I have learned that, as my doctor said so eloquently, “Lyme disease does not have Janet; she has it!”
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused from the bite of a tick. You become infected when you are bitten by a black legged tick that happens to be harboring this bacteria.The ticks are popularly known as deer ticks, but there are rodents in the fields, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, and birds that roam throughout our yards at night, and any one of them can be a carrier of black legged ticks, as well.
Here are a few tips on how to prevent contracting Lyme disease:
1. Avoid tick-infested areas, such as dense, wooded areas, tall grasses, woodpiles, especially in May, June, and July.
2. Wear long pants tucked inside of your socks or boots and a long-sleeved shirt tucked inside your pants.
3. Wear white or lightly colored clothes, so you can easily spot ticks.
4. Use an insect repellant that contains DEET on your clothing, sparingly and with caution.
5. Keep areas around your home and garden clear of leaves, brush and tall grass by keeping your grass cut short.
6. Remove vegetation close to your home that may attract deer and put up barriers to discourage deer from coming close to your home.
7. Place bird feeders away from your house to keep ticks they carry, at bay.
8. If ticks are a problem on your property, you may consider having tick pesticides applied to your yard and surrounding areas.
9. If you are in a highly infected tick region, inspect yourself carefully and remove any ticks.
10. After you’ve been outdoors, check yourself from head to toe, behind your ears, hairline, underarms, under your breasts, and between your thighs, they go where it is warm and moist, just beware!
11. If a tick bites you, save the tick and bring it to your doctor for analysis to determine if it may be a carrier of Lyme disease:
12. If you think you may have Lyme disease, look for telltale signs, which in some cases could be a bull’s eye rash, although not everyone will get a rash, and see your doctor fast.
My wish for all of you is to enjoy the outdoors, because it is a beautiful world we live in. But be cautious with it! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share with you my journey. So no matter what detours may enter your life, how you choose to look at them can either strengthen you or deplete your energy and recovery efforts. I choose to think positively and I have grown into a much stronger woman because of it!
Janet Lee DeCesare contracted Lyme disease in 1995, and has been determined ever since to research the disease and worked to find a cure. Janet also loves to write, read, crochet, do crafts with her granddaughter, spend time with her family, and sail with her husband. Her goal is to reach out to others who may have Lyme disease and are unaware of it, and to offer hope and inspiration.