Tag Archives: nature

Spring? Is it here?

Each spring brings a new awareness to life.  As my body adjusts to the weather and becomes more alive without pain, I enjoy hearing the birds sing as they do their morning chores.  Of course, I sit with a cup of tea these days on the chaise lounge brought home from our cottage and listen to them as they prepare for babies and scour the landscape for a bug that pops his head out.  I often am so engrossed in their song that I forget I too have chores to accomplish and winter clean up needs to begin.  These are lovely mornings all the same and it brings me joy to know that God has created such beauty to be enjoyed.

In the last week, I have been able to not just listen to the birds, yet I have had the privilege of observing with great pleasure I might add, the sweet gray squirrel who has decided to build a nest in one of our trees.  Every morning she has been bustling up the tree with limbs in her mouth (almost falling a few times when the limbs got stuck in other limbs…to my amuzement of course.)  Yesterday, she caught my eye as she hopped through the yard with a napkin of some sort adding it to the structure with care.  She then proceeded to climb up and down the tree chewing off small limbs and adding them, weaving them in a out of the base of her nest.  Although we live in a suburb that is not quite considered rural, we have enjoyed in our yard the playing of coyotes (not sure that is a good thing), deer that walk right past the window (which is  little freaky at night), a fox, owls (that choose different peaks to hoot on), lots of birds, possum, raccoons (that eat the leftovers after our cook outs..yikes, right up to the doorway), frogs, squirrels and farm cats.  (Yes, I’ve left out snakes because at this point I’ve not seen one and I continue to hope I will not…I know they are there as the kids have seem them in the path to other neighborhoods, which I choose to avoid).  Even still, I enjoy all of it.  I enjoy the animals that share our little area of the world and enjoy observing their habitat.

With all these delightful creatures also comes a little caution.  With May quickly approaching I am reminded that it is once again Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  A time for people to understand that this is a very real concern.  For those who have it, all too real, for those who don’t, it tends to be something “they” don’t have to worry about.  A few facts that everyone should be aware of, not scared of, but aware of:

  1.  Results of  studies have suggested that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States is around 300,000. (CDC.gov)  Yet, In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. (breast cancer.org).  Lyme Disease has surpassed new breast cancer diagnosis.  Why is it not discussed, understood, studied, and treated with the same care?  Why do so many struggle with illnesses that doctors cannot diagnose?  Why do so many health care professionals keep patients in limbo sending them to doctor after doctor, study after study when testing could be done to find the causes of their illnesses.  With the statistics given we are told that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.  So does that mean that 1 in 5 or 6 will experience Lyme disease?  Or should I say, one of the 101 strains of Borreliosis?  Yes, 101 strains.  The current test only tests for 1, and there are 101 strains.  See the problem?
  2. Every state in the nation has been touched by Lyme.  It is not contained solely in the Midwest or Northeast.  Yes, approximately 13-15 states do hold 96% of the confirmed cases, however, every state has had confirmed cases. (CDC.org)  It is not only a U.S. issue.  Other countries have also had confirmed cases, and again, the arguments continue as to treatment, acceptance of this disease, it’s presence in their country and it’s ability to mask itself making diagnosis difficult.  Even Lyme Carditis should be considered by health care professionals as a cause when it comes to cardiac symptoms and a patient has either been diagnosed, or has been in an area of high Lyme rates.  (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6343a4.htm).    Lyme disease is not limited to a one month symptom of flue like symptoms or fatigue that can be cured quickly.  It is called the great imitator for a reason.
  3. Lyme disease does not always present a rash as earlier thought.  There have been statistics of rashes occurring that range between 15%-80%.  All depends upon who is writing the research.  Sometimes a bite may be represented as a bruise.  Many times one does not even realize they have been bitten as no mark is represented.  If that is the case, then the symptoms to be aware of are flu like, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and anything additional that is out of the ordinary.  If one knows they have been bitten by a tick, it is in ones best interest to save the tick in it’s most complete state of being and send it to a lab for accurate diagnosis.  This cost can range between $50-$100.  There are labs that run these test and the ones with more accuracy are in the east.
  4. It is very important to recognize that if Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, the spirochetes can proliferate, spreading to various organs, tissues and muscles waiting for the right opportunity to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting host. Weeks, months or even years later, patients may develop problems with the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, heart and circulation, digestion, reproductive system, and skin. Symptoms may disappear even without treatment and different symptoms may appear at different times.   (https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/chronic-lyme/)
  5. There is great controversy as to the tests being run for diagnosis.  It’s best to do your research and homework when it comes to Lyme so that if you encounter it within your family or if you yourself are faced with decisions concerning Lyme you can be well prepared.  Here is some information regarding testing and the reasons for some of the controversy.     https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/diagnosis/
  6. Lyme was first discovered in Lyme Connecticut.  Due to the extensive amount of time and effort in concluding a patients symptoms relative to Lyme and then confirming through testing a Lyme diagnosis, trusting labs on the east coast of the states is not something to criticize.  They have worked with it for many years, have pioneered in their studies of Lyme and they see it daily.  Here is one such group that has put together a list of symptoms that are related to Lyme or Borreliosis:  (http://www.lymeresearchalliance.org/signs-symptom-list.html) 

    SOME OF THE MANY SYMPTOMS OF LYME DISEASE ARE:   
    Head, Face, Neck:

    Headache
    Facial paralysis (like Bell’s palsy)
    Tingling of nose, cheek, or face
    Stiff neck
    Sore throat, swollen glands
    Heightened allergic sensitivities
    Twitching of facial/other muscles
    Jaw pain/stiffness (like TMJ)
    Change in smell, taste

    Digestive/excretory System:

    Upset stomach (nausea, vomiting)
    Irritable bladder
    Unexplained weight loss or gain
    Loss of appetite, anorexia

    Respiratory/Circulatory Systems:

    Difficulty breathingNight sweats or unexplained chills
    Heart palpitations
    Diminished exercise tolerance
    Heart block, murmur
    Chest pain or rib soreness

    Psychiatric Symptoms:

    Mood swings, irritability, agitation
    Depression and anxiety
    Personality changes
    Malaise
    Aggressive behavior / impulsiveness
    Suicidal thoughts (rare cases of suicide)
    Overemotional reactions, crying easily
    Disturbed sleep: too much, too little, difficulty falling or staying asleep
    Suspiciousness, paranoia, hallucinations
    Feeling as though you are losing your mind
    Obsessive-compulsive behavior
    Bipolar disorder/manic behavior
    Schizophrenic-like state, including hallucinations

    Cognitive Symptoms:

    Dementia
    Forgetfulness, memory loss (short or long term)
    Poor school or work performance
    Attention deficit problems, distractibility
    Confusion, difficulty thinking
    Difficulty with concentration, reading, spelling
    Disorientation: getting or feeling lost

    Reproduction and Sexuality:

    Females:

    Unexplained menstrual pain, irregularity
    Reproduction problems, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, neonatal
    Death, congenital Lyme disease
    Extreme PMS symptoms
    Males:

    Testicular or pelvic pain

    Eye, Vision:

    Double or blurry vision, vision changes
    Wandering or lazy eye
    Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
    Oversensitivity to light
    Eye pain or swelling around eyes
    Floaters/spots in the line of sight
    Red eyes

    Ears/Hearing:

    Decreased hearing
    Ringing or buzzing in ears
    Sound sensitivity
    Pain in ears

    Musculoskeletal System:

    Joint pain, swelling, or stiffness
    Shifting joint pains
    Muscle pain or cramps
    Poor muscle coordination, loss of reflexes
    Loss of muscle tone, muscle weakness

    Neurologic System:

    Numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
    Burning/stabbing sensations in the body
    Burning in feet
    Weakness or paralysis of limbs
    Tremors or unexplained shaking
    Seizures, stroke
    Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
    Increased motion sickness, wooziness
    Lightheadedness, fainting
    Encephalopathy (cognitive impairment from brain involvement)
    Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
    Meningitis (inflammation of the protective membrane around the brain)
    Encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord)
    Academic or vocational decline
    Difficulty with multitasking
    Difficulty with organization and planning
    Auditory processing problems
    Word finding problems
    Slowed speed of processing

    Skin Problems:

    Benign tumor-like nodules
    Erethyma Migrans (rash)

    General Well-being:

    Decreased interest in play (children)
    Extreme fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion
    Unexplained fevers (high or low grade)
    Flu-like symptoms (early in the illness)
    Symptoms seem to change, come and go

    Other Organ Problems:

    Dysfunction of the thyroid (under or over active thyroid glands)
    Liver inflammation
    Bladder & Kidney problems (including bed wetting)

  7. Many lyme experts claim that it’s just not a tick born illness any longer.  It can be spread by mosquitos, fleas, spiders and any biting insect.  Although the theory that these insects can transfer the disease is debated, it has been proven that they can be hosts to the disease and it’s co-infections, whether or not they too can transfer the disease to humans is what is being debated.  (https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/co-infections/about-co-infections/)

Lyme disease can sound really scary when you read all of these, and it can seem that everything one experiences could be Lyme.  This may or may not be the case.  Lyme needs to be understood, accepted and embraced as a real disease with real consequences.  People need to understand not just how to remove the ticks, they also need to understand the disease itself, it’s co-infections and it’s long lasting results if not dealt with.  They need to understand that it’s much more common than one thinks and that the statistics show it’s more common than breast cancer.  Do you know someone with breast cancer?  Odd’s are you do and guess what?  You also know someone with Lyme Disease, you and they may just not know it yet.

With Lyme Awareness Month coming up, please consider becoming more aware of how you too can help others understand Lyme disease.  It is with great hope that those of us that are experiencing Lyme disease every day will have people close to them understand that this is real, it’s abusive to the body, and it’s something that is tolerated and dealt with daily.  Each of us makes accommodations to our new lifestyle and each of us is different in our symptoms.  We just want people to understand that our lives are shared now with a pathogen that shows no mercy and it’s main job is destruction.  It’s victims are not limited in age, gender, social status or nationality.  As a friend or family member of someone stricken with Lyme Disease, compassion and love is extremely important.  We want our lives to be as normal as possible, yet at the same time it is not.  For those not affected, imagining the daily struggles is not always understood.  That’s why May is such an important month.  Please educate yourself, be aware of your surroundings and be aware that Lyme is a beast that researchers are still studying and much is yet to be learned.

I thank you reader for helping to educate yourself and for spreading the word on Lyme Disease.

Check out also:   http://chroniclymediseasesummit.com/?inf_contact_key=bbc2510f5bf3faedddfcffda895aaf8aac768bd582055e230bd0c6967c3b8983