1. Find and remove the tick.
No easy task: the smaller the tick the more Lyme-y they are. In June, the dreaded “nymph” is everywhere. They are about the size of your smallest freckle. I keep jewelers glasses in my bathroom and check out every inch of flesh in the house. I have found one burrowed in armpit hair. I’ve met two people just this week who’ve had the exciting ‘tick in the balls’ discovery. Look everywhere then take a shower and look again. A tick will get very…um, ew, energetic, when your blood warms up.
I keep a Tick Twister around and The Tick Keys. In a pinch, a credit card will do. The idea is to sort of ‘scoop’ the thing off of you. No tweezers. No matches. Don’t annoy it. Don’t leave its…um, ew, head in you.
2. TAKE A DOXYCYCLINE.
There is evidence that a single dose of Doxycycline taken within the first 24 hours of a tick bite can prevent Lyme disease from setting in. I am not a doctor, so everything here is my own opinion, but this is not optional for my loved ones. How do you happen to just have a Doxycycline in your kit? Call your doctor and demand a prophylactic prescription. For you. For your pill-age kids going off to camp. I stockpile Doxy so that everyone knows they can call me for a supply.
Here’s what you say when you call your doctor:
“I am deathly afraid of getting Lyme disease and I’ve heard that a course of Doxycycline taken prophylactically right away can possibly prevent it. Will you please write me (my husband, my wife, my camper) a prescription so I can have some on hand. I promise I will call you if I have to take one.”
I don’t know the answer for really young kids or pregnant women, but I can tell you this — there is no way in about a billion years that the risks associated with taking a single Doxycycline, or even a month of Doxycycline, can compare to the risks associated with even a chance of getting Lyme disease. If your doctor won’t write you a prescription, find another doctor.
A tick needs to be on you for 24 hours in order for it to transmit Lyme disease. Okay — think about it. That’s like saying that it’s okay to share a needle with someone who has hepatitis as long as you use it really quickly. The 30-second rule does not apply here. A dirty needle is a dirty needle. IMO, that’s b.s.
You need to have the bullseye rash to get Lyme disease. Most people never have a rash (in fact, most do not realize that they’ve ever been bitten). The rash can look merely like redness. The rash can not appear at all.
You can look out for symptoms, then go to the doctor. Lyme symptoms are so freaky and so varied, that you will likely not recognize them. Lyme symptoms do not necessarily show up right away. By the time you show any symptoms, you may already have chronic Lyme that will never, ever, ever go away.
For example: your memory is a little off, the next week you see spots, then your bad knee acts up, then your shoulder bugs you and you schedule surgery, then you’re super-super-super tired and you spend a month in bed, then your thumb hurts so much you can’t sleep, then you start carrying thermometers in your purse to re-check your permanent 99.9 fever, then you lose your temper at work and get fired, then your thumb hurts again, then your vision takes a nose dive, then you go through what seems like menopause, then you could swear you see bugs in your poop, then you find yourself at the shrink’s office trying to explain all this. Shrink squints eyes, takes notes, finds you fascinating. Would like to see you the following week.
Who recognizes this collection of symptoms as Lyme? Also, just for kicks, Lyme comes with a collection of co-infections, like Babesia or Cat Scratch Fever, so each case of Lyme has a different…um, ew, flavor. The co-infections can be worse, and harder to treat, than the Lyme.
So call your doctor and get your stash of Doxycycline, okay?
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