For the first time, the dog and I are on our own at our Camp Sherman cabin. Laurel is off at a family reunion in Kentucky. So Serena and I are keeping things interesting by getting Lyme disease (me) and a Xanax drug reaction (dog). Or so I've diagnosed.
Hey, I’m looking at the bright side: it’s blogging material.
I was planning to write about how Lars Larson, the bozo conservative talk show host, thinks that the Surgeon General’s report on the dire health effects of second-hand smoke is a bunch of crap, because Lars took a glance at it via the Internet and has concluded that the 670 page study is, well, just blowing smoke. What an idiot.
But now that I have a disease to blog about, I’ve got to take advantage of it. For usually I’m abnormally healthy. When I get together with my fellow baby boomers I’m left out of the “let me tell you about my [fill in problem]” discussion. Which is just about all we late 50’s and early 60’s folks seem to talk about.
Finally I have my own story. About a week after our last trip to the cabin, Laurel spotted a suspicious growth on my back. “Oh my god, you’ve never had a bump in that place before. It’s irregular and discolored. You must have skin cancer!”
Well, I’m blessed with a wife who is exceedingly health conscious. And a bit prone to over-anxiousness.
Upon closer inspection with a magnifying glass, the “skin cancer” turned out to be an engorged tick. Following the instructions in a Lyme disease pamphlet we had lying around the house (Laurel is nothing if not well prepared) she managed to pull out the critter with some tweezers.
We put it in some alcohol. And I started researching Lyme disease. By email I asked the Oregon Lyme Disease Network for advice, saying that I probably picked up the tick while hiking or biking in the Camp Sherman area. I got a quick response from Theresa Denham, president of the network.
She told me that Camp Sherman has an higher incidence of Lyme disease than other areas and advised me to get the tick tested by the IgeneX laboratory. I sent the tiny demon off to them last Monday by express mail. Haven’t gotten the results yet.
My family doctor said that I should watch out for symptoms, most notable of which is a bulls-eye rash. This afternoon, after taking a shower, I saw what sure looks like that rash surrounding the tick bite. I’ll be seeking medical treatment tomorrow, for sure. The earlier antibiotics are given, the better. I was fortunate to have seen a tick, and to have been bitten in a clearly visible part of my body.
Of course, there’s a chance I don’t have Lyme disease. In that event, I’ll issue a blog retraction. But I’ll still be glad that I alerted people to the need to take precautions against picking up a tick.
There aren’t many reported cases in Oregon (here’s a national incidence map). However, an article in the Portland Oregonian discussed the controversy that is raging about whether under-diagnosis of cases (according to Lyme disease patient advocates) or mistaken self-diagnosis of cases (according to many physicians) is more likely to be happening.
On the dog front, I can report that Xanax doesn’t do squat to relieve Serena’s thunderstorm anxiety. Yesterday, when the thunder started I gave her one 2mg pill. She spent several hours hiding in closets, under tables, and a desk.
Today, I maxed out the vet’s recommended dose (3mg, one and a half pills) and gave it to her about an hour before the thunder started. The difference was that instead of an anxious dog, I now had an anxious, stumbling, seemingly drunken dog. More interesting, to be sure, but no improvement.
This article by a vet about treating thunderstorm phobia points out some of the side effects of alprazolam (Xanax). I saw several of them this evening.
Serena definitely wasn’t herself. Not even her normal anxious self. In the space of a few minutes she first frantically tried to jump on top of me while I was sitting in a chair, then she curled up on the chair, almost instantly fell asleep, and started snoring loudly while I patted her.
I felt very paternal, sitting there with the head of a zonked-out dog in my lap, trying to soothe away both her thunder phobia and Xanax drug reaction. For a while I even forgot about my Lyme disease.
Which I might not have. When my wife phoned from Kentucky tonight she was incredulous about my self-diagnosis. “There are only a couple of dozen cases in Oregon each year,” she said. “You probably don’t have it.”
Well, we will see. Usually I like the feeling of being special. In this case, though, I’d be happy to be utterly commonplace.
(P.S. Forgot to mention that I'm going to try to find some herbal Rescue Remedy in Sisters tomorrow. It's supposed to work for dogs as well as people. Some dog owners say they've had success with it. Again, we will see.]