May is Lyme Disease Awareness month. I wish there was more I could do to help spread awareness but I do as much as I can. Mostly posting on Facebook, wearing my Lyme awareness necklace and bracelet, and answering any questions that I’m asked. Dr. Horowitz says they’ve predicted that this year will be the worst yet for Lyme disease as there will be an overabundance of ticks. They say it’s due partially to winter not having been cold enough to thoroughly kill them. I thought winter was cold enough! I remember it was -23 degrees at one point so how cold does it need to get?! Geez! Those stupid bloodsuckers are extremely hard to kill though.
So what do you do when you think someone isn’t taking the necessary precautions needed in tick prevention? Or harder yet, what do you do when someone who should know better doesn’t take the precautions you think they should take? Does that make them stupid just because you think they’re foolish? These are questions I have to ask myself all the time with unfortunately all but ONE of my loved ones. The only one who is as cautious as I am and maybe even more so is my daughter. Otherwise, everyone else causes me great anxiety. They walk and sit in the grass, they let their children play, sit, and walk in the grass, they sit and lean up against trees, they go hunting in the woods, let their dogs in the grass, and I highly suspect there are no thorough tick checks afterward on themselves or the dogs. I realize the only person who has felt the sting of Lyme disease, and I mean truly felt it, is me. I know my family is affected by my sickness as far as worrying about me or feeling sorry for me, but they don’t know the sheer terror, heart-wrenching grief, and the 24/7 misery I live with. If they did, I’d like to think they’d have more sense. But I guess what they say in my Lyme community is true, “You don’t get it until you GET it.” The ones with debilitating Lyme try to convey just how serious this disease is, but unless you live with it like we do, it’s easily forgotten.
A saying my mom used to tell me is, “A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” In other words, don’t do what I’ve done and end up like me. Not that you can always control whether or not you get a tick bite because you can’t. Even mosquitos, flies, and fleas carry Lyme and mosquitos especially are impossible to avoid. But had I not walked in the taller grass and across the lawn where ticks love to hang out, I’d probably not be writing this right now.
I’ve never been much for being outdoors. I hate the bugs that are always irritatingly around flying in your face, crawling on you, or biting you. Mostly the gnats, ants, and mosquitos used to drive me crazy, or rather, STILL drive me crazy. But I always have and still do enjoy taking walks on a beautiful day or sitting on the porch with a good book. I love the fresh air and smell of being outdoors in the summer. I enjoy a good cookout or picnic and going to the beach or pool. I’m sad that I can no longer feel comfortable laying a blanket down in the grass on a beautiful day or allowing my daughter and dog to play out in the yard. I mean I COULD still do it. But then wouldn’t that make me the foolish one? To take such a huge risk with my daughter’s life and my own? To know what I know and to experience what I’ve lived through only to throw all that knowledge away by not using it?
I can’t live anyone’s life for them. I can, however, be the annoying family member who to them is an overly cautious psychopath who they probably roll their eyes at and talk about once I’ve left, laughing about how ridiculous I am. But who is actually the ridiculous one? Me or them? Maybe neither. I’m very conflicted. I know I’m not stupid, but I’m not sure that they are either just because they don’t live up to my standards of expertise in the Lyme disease avoidance department. I do know one thing for certain. If they ever end up getting infected with Lyme, they’ll look back and wish they’d been more cautious. As good as “I-told-you-so’s” feel, in that circumstance, there would be no enjoyment. I’m petrified of anyone, especially those closest to me, getting this evil disease. It’s a thief that robs you of everything because when you don’t have your health, there isn’t much left. You can have the most wonderful family, (and I’m beyond grateful that I do) or all the earthly riches you could ever want, but if you’re too sick to lift your head off your pillow, you’re not able to enjoy them. I guess the earthly riches would still come in handy though since this disease will cost you everything you have in treatment costs and then some. $1,000 monthly out of pocket for doctor, medications, and supplement fees may seem outrageous, but unfortunately, that is on the cheap end. So I guess another advantage to Lyme prevention would be saving money. No Lyme, no crazy treatment fees.
But if you’re not opposed to throwing your life and your money away, then by all means, sit in that grass, lay in it, roll in it, do whatever the heck you want in it and live on the wild side. Chances are, you’ll be just fine. But if that’s not the case and you find yourself sicker and in more pain than you ever imagined was possible, I may give you an “I-told-you-so” just to hold me off from punching you in the face, and then I’ll do everything in my power to help you get better.