Wednesday, May 13
So now I’ve tested negative twice.
Geezer Diary followers might remember the first time: Back in March, a friend convinced me my cough was nasty enough to warrant a Corona test. So I got swabbed. It was just a bad cold.
This week I also tested negative. Not for Covid19, but for Lyme Disease.
I’ve been a pincushion for ticks this year, and two of my three bites blossomed into the classic bullseye pattern left by the deer ticks that carry Lyme. So now I’m now on my second three-week course of doxycycline antibiotic.
And, yes, I’m supposedly holed up here on Yankee Hill to stay healthy. To socially distance. But if you hike, it’s apparently impossible to socially distance from ticks.
These nasty arachnids have found me in the middle of nowhere, walking with my dog, Lil. When they nailed me, I was probably 100 miles or more from the nearest Corona droplet.
The first tick burrowed under two or three layers in late February, found a place it liked on my right shoulder, then drilled in. A day or two later I notice redness there, spotted the tick, picked it off, and flushed it down the toilet. Awhile later, the bullseye showed up and I went to the ER.
“Right out of the textbook,” said the doctor, prescribing my first course of doxy.
In April, another tick hit me on the left hip. But no bullseye.
Then, a little more than a week ago, Tick No. 3 tunneled under a sock and deep into my right hiking boot, made its way down to the narrow gap between my two smallest toes, then dug in.
Back home, I changed into sandals. Awhile later I felt some foot irritation, checked it out, and there was the sucking tick. I removed it with tweezers.
Then the bite reddened, swelled, blistered and bullseyed. I was off to my GP’s office the next morning: Three more weeks of doxy and a blood test for Lyme.
“And if that redness starts to creep up your leg, you call me right away,” my doctor added. Thankfully, it didn’t.
But really, am I safe up here?? I might be better off bucking the crowds on a New York subway. No tick is going to get me on the 3 Line to Brooklyn (although a Corona carrier might).
One thing is for sure: I do not want Lyme.
I’m just happy that those ticks did not nail me a decade ago. Conventional, if incorrect, wisdom back then was that there were no Lyme ticks in California. So symptoms, such as headaches, muscle pain and insomnia, were mystifying and often went untreated while the disease worsened.
There’s more awareness today. Still, if you look up Lyme, nothing is clear-cut and much is contentious. Tests, treatments, symptoms and diagnoses are all questioned.
The three-week course of antibiotics I am now taking is largely accepted by the medical establishment. But a significant minority, including many “Lyme-literate” docs, have labeled this treatment as simplistic and ineffective for many.
These specialists favor longer antibiotic courses, as well as herbal and dietary remedies. So there is widespread disagreement among doctors.
The consequences of totally ignoring symptoms, however, are agreed to: Lyme’s progression to muscles, joints, heart and even the brain. No thanks!
Then there’s Lil, who regularly races through heavy brush ahead of me in pursuit of squirrels, jackrabbits or wild turkeys. Then she arrives home without a single tick on her.
That’s because I give her a flea-and-tick killer called NexGard once a month. So why can’t I take NexGard?
My friend and retired veterinarian Marv Ordway said humans would have to take larger amounts of the drug for longer periods of time, as most outweigh and outlive dogs. Long-term trials have not been conducted, he continued, adding that “not a lot of people are enthusiastic about ingesting pesticides.”
So, yeah, there’s that.
Otherwise, you can spray a tick repellant called permethrin on your clothes. Or slather on a Deet insecticide, which takes care of any ticks which dare approach your skin. Deet has its detractors, but Consumer Reports says it’s OK in lower concentrations.
So I’ve ordered up some Deep Woods Off tick and mosquito and spray for my skin (25 percent Deet) and Sawyer Permethrin repellant for my clothes. So I should be good to go (or at least to go hiking).
And, yes, as soon as the folks at Off or Sawyer come up with a spray for Corona, I’m in.