Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Tiny Causes of Enormous Problems

Two years ago, while hiking in my favourite Scottish glen – one of the clagging-heather variety - a couple of other walkers approached. They looked like they knew what they were doing – big packs, determined expressions, etc. – except that the woman wore three-quater-length trousers. They said hello, and I said, "I hope you don't mind me mentioning, but there's Lyme disease in this glen." The man immediately started waving his arms around, declaring that he'd never heard such a thing, and they were going over to another glen anyway. The woman looked blank. "Two of my friends caught it," I added, "and I know of others." He then put his hands on his hips telling me not to be ridiculous, and it didn't matter anyway. His manner took on an arrogant, abusive tone. I was torn between wishing I'd kept my mouth shut, and an inability to let this fellow hiker jeopardise her health. Her companion obviously knew about the risks, but clearly wanted me to shut up. Why? God knows - how not to protect your mate from a life-changing illness. The woman continued looking blank, so I encouraged her to think about covering her legs, and left.

I didn't bother them with details of the tick bite I'd had earlier that year, the debilitating exhaustion I'd suffered, the heart irregularities, and all the other discomforts. Not to mention the awful side effects of the antibiotics I had to take. I was lucky (I had an interested doctor). Caught within the first month, Lyme disease is curable. After that, controlling the symptoms is the best you can hope for.

If you spend any time at all in the UK countryside, I encourage you to familiarise yourself with Lyme disease. There is a mine of information on the net, and Google is your friend - a better one than the chappy above. Coincidentally (I've been planning this post for months :o), it's tick-bite prevention week, so you could look at their site too.


-maria- said...

I think it is important to try to spread the information! At least here in Finland the awereness of the tick diseases (Lyme & TBE) has grown but there are still people who just don't mind.

Anonymous said...

That was really valuable to read - sometimes I wear shorts or cropped trousers, and without repellent. So thank you for raising my awareness; I shall educate myself further.

Juniper said...

My boss had this a couple of years ago, from deer ticks by the river where he fishes. He really suffered but is fully recovered.

Thanks for the reminder before I next head out without thinking about it!


Troy said...

Thanks for this! As someone who wears shorts throughout the summer when it is sunny (ie. occasionally) I was in complete ignorance of it.

Andy B. said...

Which glen was that, if I may ask...?


(btw, are you still using your TN Solar Elite?? Still happy with it? Any exposed pitching done??)

I always wear trousers *and* gaiters even at the height of summer (dabbed with a bit of tcp which is supposed to put ticks off. It puts people off as well, which is not a bad thing...)

Kath McGurl said...

I have a friend who had Lyme disease and it went untreated for ages. She had to give up the job she loved and still suffers several years on.

I would say if you get a tick bite go straight to the doctor's on your return even if you're not feeling unwell and get the anti-biotics. We get ticks carrying Lyme disease here in the New Forest, where no one wears gaiters.