The day after my birthday Pete found a deer tick attached behind Lupine's ear.
We've been monitoring her closely ever since for signs of Lyme.
She's been treated twice already, once when she was five and had a bull's-eye rash on her neck and face, and once when she had a mysterious swelling and rash on her abdomen, accompanied by an on-again-off-again fever.
When she had Lyme the first time her personality changed. Her moods swung unpredictably from deliriously happy to debilitatingly sad or angry. She wasn't the girl I knew. When Pete and I saw the rash we shared a collective "aha" moment and gratefully picked up her 30 day supply of antibiotics.
She was back to herself within two days.
And then last week we found another tick, attached under her chin after another day in the woods.
Yesterday I found two more. Attached. In her hair.
And then, just before bed, a third.
Five ticks in two week. Three of them in a single day.
I won't lie. Sometimes the fear gets me. Sometimes I want to shave their heads or never let them go outside. Ever.
Or maybe we'll just move away.
But the truth is, there's nowhere else to go.
Because there is something for us to fear in every corner of the world.
You have crime, they have a nuclear reactor, someone else has hurricanes, a volcano, tornadoes.
We have ticks.
From the creek yesterday I watched chickadees flit from tree to tree I wondered if they had Lyme. Being birds, they don't. But regardless they didn't seem to care either way.
And all I could think was that I want a chickadee's life. Free, wild, and fearless.
Because even a short carefree life seems better lived than a long and troubled one.
After I pulled the ticks off of her head yesterday she had sighed and slumped into my lap. "Now I can never go into the woods again," she said, her voice high, on the edge of tears.
Because mama is afraid.
Because you might get sick.
Because – ticks.
And to be honest my first thought when she expressed her feelings was "Is she being emotional because she has Lymes?"
No, really. It was.
And as the thought bubbled up I decided that fear might a worse poison to us than Lyme.
And so I made a choice.
I chose the woods.
Because we make decisions everyday that we hope and pray are right. About kids and life, health and happiness, education and spirit.
And we cross all of our fingers as we say a prayer, hoping we choose well.
We throw the dice.
So yes, baby. You can go into the woods.
Out into ground zero.
Into the forest, the brush, down to the creek, into childhood – to live and be and explore.
To be free, a chickadee in the trees.
But before you go we'll tuck your pants into socks and pull your hair back. We'll put a hat on your head and spray the spray all over and rattle the bones and make a wish.
And when you get home we'll check you for ticks – like everyday before – and hope that this time we find them before they attach.
Because we live here.
We live here.
We don't hide here or fear here.
We'll live here.
And yes, your childhood may come with more antibiotics, but it will not come with fear where the forest should have been.
Because today that's the best answer I can find.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
A few notes –
~ Lupine was first diagnosed with Lyme when we lived in town. Avoiding the woods does not remove the risk of Lyme.
~ I wrote about my own experience with Lyme when I was diagnosed last summer. You can find it here.
~ We make a bug spray that contains rose geranium essential oil. This essential oil (along with tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar) can be an extremely effective tick repellents. The catch is that you must reapply often and thoroughly. (I think that is where we've gone wrong.) We used a goodly amount of our spray before our last outing and haven't found a tick since. I'm hoping this will help and we're carrying it with us into the woods from now on, reapplying every hour or so.
~ Based on the suggestion of a friend we're dabbing a dab of our herbal anti-itch balm on each tick bite. It's helping them calm down and heal much more quickly than ususal. Hooray for small blessings.
~ If you'd like more information on how to manage Lyme have a holistic Lyme disease board here.
~ Please sign this petition. It would help if we could address Lyme proactively. Maybe – just maybe – this could help.
~ When I shared my own Lyme story I got lots of emails asking how we were choosing to treat it. If you are curious about how we are handling these recent bites here is our plan. Our physician recommended Lupine take 1 dropper-full of cat's claw tincture two times a day. In addition he suggested 3 pellets per day of Ledum 30 c homeopathic (which we were already giving her for the bites). If she (or any of us) shows any signs of Lyme we will treat with at least 30 days of antibiotics.
~ And finally, if you disagree with my choice to still let my children play outside I can respect that completely. These are big decisions and unfortunatley we can not know what the future holds. Please know that I'm feeling pretty vulnerable right now so let's keep the comments here extra kind today. Many thanks, my friends.