Spring is blooming, memories of Old Man winter have faded and Mother Earth entices us to enjoy her fresh beauty…with caution. Danger lurks in the woods, fields, grassy trails and suburban lawns that reach across large swaths of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In its nymph stage, the miniscule deer tick is also enjoying the cool, damp days of spring (and autumn, too). It’s looking for food in the form of human or animal blood. If an infected deer tick — a carrier of the bacteria that causes infectious Lyme Disease (LD) — bites you, you could contract LD or a multitude of tick-borne co-infections.
Discovered in Lyme, CT, in 1977, LD has long baffled medical personnel. Frequently misdiagnosed and challenging to treat when diagnosed late, this debilitating illness has disrupted millions of lives across the U.S. Most people have no idea they’ve been bitten; the ticks are small, easily overlooked.
Paula Quinlan — a certified natural health professional who looks to Mother Nature for healing — lives one of those disrupted lives. This once-successful asphalt construction consultant is experiencing first-hand the pain, confusion and mystery surrounding LD. Diagnosed with LD in 2006, Paula may have had it since 1993, when she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic disease with similar symptoms.
There was a time when Paula was so emotionally exhausted from the constant LD pain that she considered suicide. Instead, she recalls, “I received a message from my Higher Spirit telling me that I still had work to do.”
Her work? An inspirational journey of educating herself and others about LD, of turning to Mother Earth as a source for healing and harmony, and feeling varying degrees of “totally awesome” every day.
The list of LD symptoms is long, so Paula recommends knowing four primary symptoms: rash; extreme fatigue with pain; recurrent fever, chills or night sweats; and headaches of all kinds. Note that not all symptoms are always present, yet paying attention and getting help early (after being in the woods or countryside), provide the best chances for beating the tick.
“The Lyme bacteria is often referred to as the great impostor, and the disease can lay dormant for years,” Paula says. “It’s why LD is hard to treat — it’s difficult for the immune system and antibiotics to recognize.”
LD can affect multiple body systems — central nervous system, cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory. If not caught early and treated, it can cause neuralgic, psychiatric, cardiac and arthritic problems. It’s often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or multiple sclerosis, just several of the hundreds of diseases that could possibly be LD.
Suspect you have LD?
“All doctors are not equal, so it’s important to connect with a Lyme literate allopathic doctor or naturopath” Paula says. She recommends contacting the Minnesota Lyme Association for assistance, www.mnlyme.com.
Blood tests for antibodies are helpful for confirming LD in its early stages. When caught early, 4-6 weeks of oral antibiotics usually eradicates the disease. In later stages of LD, however, antibiotics may not be effective and treatment will vary according to each case.
Paula took an active role in determining her 2006 LD diagnosis and her ongoing treatment. A naturopath has helped guide her healing process; Paula uses a variety of holistic modalities, including pure essential oils, rainforest nutrition and energy healing.
Protect to Prevent
Enjoy time with Mother Nature, however, take precautions. Paula recommends wearing light-colored clothing, including a tucked-in shirt with long sleeves and long pants with a band around the ankles (ticks like to travel up the body) and hat. There are also chemical applications (like DEET and permethrin) that can be sprayed on exposed skin or clothing. Essential oils are great insect repellents, too.
On the trail, walk in the middle of the pathway and carry tweezers for tick removal (be sure to get the head out). Check for ticks throughout the day and take a shower at day’s end to wash away any ticks that haven’t attached.
LD has not prevented Paula from enjoying her time with nature. She protects to prevent so she can continue enjoying her improving health. “I am still a work-in-progress for creating a totally awesome life in harmony,” she says.
Contact Paula Quinlan at www.paulaquinlan.com.