"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rocky Mountain Spotted What????

We have been on a crazy, wild roller coaster as a family. Our first, real, health emergency. Sweet little Nib was bitten by a tick, ostensibly right here in our own city yard (we weren't really anywhere else at the time) and came down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the deadliest of the tick borne diseases. I've had Lyme's Disease before so I'm pretty cautious about tick illnesses now but this one was the scariest run-in yet. As with many of the tick sicknesses, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a very evil trickster. It looks like nothing much (fever, rash, generalized aching) and then suddenly it starts doing clever things like attacking your internal organs systematically. The real key with tick borne illnesses is to look carefully for ticks attached to you after you've been outdoors and if you notice any symptoms of illness afterwards (particularly fever) get thee to a doctor and get thee on antibiotics. (So says the CDC in their official guidelines for tick illness.)

Some doctors (ours for instance) are conservative and feel disinclined to treat first, ask questions later and will drag their feet, suggest a wait-and-see plan and tell you it is unlikely you've been infected. While I completely and whole heartedly agree with this plan of action if we're talking about ear infections or the run-of-the mill coughs, tick diseases are different. The stage where they can be cured easily is the stage when they look like nothing much. Once they look serious the patient is often either untreatable or seriously damaged. My personal opinion is, treat....ask questions later. If a doctor tries to get you to have a blood test to prove that what you have is a tick borne disease, go along with it happily but insist that you be treated immediately after the test is administered...not when the results come back. Tick testing takes two weeks or so and waiting that long can be detrimental to health. Don't wait! The treatment is simply an antibiotic, a really kick-butt strong antibiotic but still...that's all it is, nothing crazy or involved.

Nib ended up being hospitalized in order to be observed and to have his antibiotic administered via iv in order to get it in his system more quickly and to keep an eye on the many things in his body that had started to complain by the time he was finally diagnosed (his kidney function, his liver enzymes, his hemoglobin numbers, etc.) after getting the run-around from the first doctors who saw him. We are so incredibly grateful for the internet, for the knowledge available at the tips of any parent's fingers about CDC policy and disease symptoms and even drug details. Without it I'm not sure we'd have our boy alive today.

We are also incredibly grateful to our local city hospital where our son was correctly and swiftly diagnosed and we were given such wonderful care from infectious disease specialists, nurses, pediatricians and everyone else involved in our case. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a rarity in our area but it is here and so are several other more prevalent tick diseases. Don't fool around with ticks: use repellent, landscape with care, inspect yourself and your children after outings and use your local health department who will often receive and identify ticks  and sometimes test them for diseases which can help you determine if you should seek treatment....even when few or no symptoms present themselves (which can happen).

This week, I plan to call a non-toxic tick control company, lay down a little more mulch, double check our bug repellent stock, hug our son, and breath. Just breath.

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