The word summer usually evokes memories of bonfires, days spent splashing through the pool, lake, or ocean in the bright sun, savoring s’mores, playing sports, and feeling carefree.
Two words unlikely to be on everyone’s radar: Lyme disease. It wasn’t really on our minds until suddenly we were forced to knowledge up, and fast! We had spent most of the weekend outdoors, bathing at night, blissfully unaware of the tick check that we will later make a ritual. I was holding my son in my lap and brushing my hand through his long hair when I felt something squishy. It had a grayish-green, almost translucent color, and I thought it must be some food, toy goo, or a booger. It was at the nape of his neck, relatively hidden to the eye, but easily felt up close. I clamped my fingernails into his scalp and pulled. Out popped a giant, and what I would later learn was an engorged tick. The insect’s mouth was covered in a cement-like goo, and it was nearly the size of my engagement ring.
As I watched this creature shrink before my eyes (maybe they absorb the blood faster while detached?)The insect’s color darkened, and the shell pattern became more apparent. I realized that this was a tick. Showing the tick to my brother-in-law, who often camps and hunts, he confirmed that it was a deer tick, as I suspected. I had removed ticks before, but never this big and engorged.
We called our pediatrician’s on-call line that night and were advised to monitor for rashes, fever, or fatigue, especially as well as anything else odd in the next week. A non-bullseye rash appeared around day five, and a fever also presented within that first week. Toward the end of the week, we noticed Blake began napping midday again. He hadn’t day napped in months. We then brought Blake in and were prescribed fourteen days of antibiotics. I was so relieved to be believed right away by our doctor. Some other mothers have mentioned having to advocate for their children, as Lyme disease can be tricky to diagnose without actually seeing the tick, which does happen if the tick detaches before you find it. One friend had to wait until their child lost the energy to walk before he was given an antibiotic. All that to say, it’s tick season, all! Time for those nightly (or more often if in tall grass) tick checks. Want to know more?
Five Lyme Tips for Indy Folks:
1. Lyme disease is no longer just plaguing the coasts. It is on the rise in good ole Indiana as well. Up to 20% of deer ticks in Marion County may carry Lyme disease.
2. Not all Lyme cases will show the telltale Bullseye shaped rash or any rash at all. In fact 30% or more do not.
3. Just because you remove the entire tick does not mean that you are in the clear. If the tick has been on the scalp for more than 36 hours, or if you have any concerns for any reason at all, it’s worth consulting a doctor.
4. Some symptoms are very subtle. For our son, it was an irritated area around the bite that lasted for several weeks, a small, non-bullseye-shaped rash in the first week after the bite, and a very low fever about five days later. My mantra is if in doubt, get it checked out! If you suspect you or your child were bitten by a tick and are struggling with what to do, this list helped give me the nudge to call the doctor right after the bite, as we couldn’t tell how many days the tick had been embedded.
5. You can actually send the tick away for Lyme and other illness testing. I haven’t personally done this, as we flushed our tick after finding it. Some lab sites offer quick testing for $50 and usually get results to you within less than a week. A sister recommended this process if you can trap the tick in a ziplock bag and have access to postal services when you find the tick.