Sunday, August 02, 2009

Diagnosis

I don't want to speak for all parents, so I'll just speak for myself: I spend a fair amount of time Monday-morning quarterbacking my parenting decisions and actions. There's a good deal of analyzing, replaying, retracing, judging and criticizing going on.

The care and nurturing of these tiny beings from infanthood to adulthood is a sticky process fraught with peril. One wrong move (so the adage goes) and our offspring will spend several decades and thousands of dollars propped up in some shrink's office telling him or her how all their woes are mom or dad's fault.

I'm not sure I actually buy in to that. I think every child is different. I know some adults who went through some pretty heavy shit growing up who are just fine (more or less) today. I also know a few who had more or less idyllic childhoods and are totally dysfunctional. So you never know.

But the part I am beating myself up the most about these days is in my role of protector.

They are still so young. And with youth comes a respectable level of fearlessness. I remember it myself. Jumping out of trees, riding bikes top-speed down steep hills (without a helmet, mind you), walking on a frozen pond with no thought whatsoever as to whether the ice was safe or not.

I like to think I do my best to protect them, knowing that they are not always going to do this themselves.

Protection extends beyond the extreme, of course. It's not just about jumping out of trees and steering clear of thin ice. It's also about the basics: Wash your hands before you eat. Don't tip back in your chair at the dinner table. After playing outside, let us check you for ticks.

We live in a rural area. Our yard is surrounded on two sides by woods. We have deer – lots of them – leaping through those woods, along with a host of other wildlife. I know probably a half dozen people here in town who have had Lyme disease, and probably a dozen more from the surrounding area.

When we moved here, we attended a seminar held at the local high school about Lyme disease. Finding the tick early is key, I learned. They need to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease, so one of the best ways to prevent it is to do regular and thorough checks after being outside.

I know the risks.

And yet, sometime in early June, after a day of playing outside, I stripped off Loaf's clothing, pulled a nightgown over her head and sent her to bed. The next day, I handed clean clothes to her and she dressed herself.

Later than night while preparing her for a bath, I noticed something on her back. A tiny black something. Not much bigger than a freckle. Unsure if it was dirt or lint, I gently brushed it with my finger tip, but it did not budge.

I looked closer.

Six tiny legs wiggled from the engorged body of a tick. A deer tick. A fully embedded one. The head was all the way in her back, meaning it had probably been there a while.

We gently removed it and I plopped it into a plastic bag telling myself it was wise to save it incase it needed to be tested later. (But it won't, right? A relatively small percentage of ticks carry Lyme, so the chances of this ONE being a carrier is small, right?)

A couple of days later we had dinner with our neighbors and he told the story of a recent tick buried in his side that he had tested and that came back positive for Lyme. I told him Loaf's story and he encouraged me to send it off to the lab for testing, just for peace of mind.

Twenty bucks and a few days later, we got the result: THIS TICK IS A POSITIVE CARRIER OF LYME DISEASE. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN.

So we did, of course, but like many things, we were in a waiting game to see if she developed the rash, or other symptoms. And she was fine. Each day passed without any suspicious symptoms whatsoever.

Until this week when she woke up one morning complaining of leg pain. An examination and blood test confirmed it: Lyme disease.

The good news is, though she will be on antibiotics for most of August, she is expected to be 100%, totally fine. Her prognosis is good.

But my Monday-morning quarterbacking is still in diagnosis mode. And it says: Why didn’t you check her that night? How did you LET this happen?

And I suppose that’s a good thing. This way, hopefully, it won’t happen again.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yikes. Oral antibiotics I hope? Good thing you found the tick!! JAG

6:23 PM  
Blogger Bandobras said...

I expect there isn't much that will assuage your guilt but this really does come under the heading of scratches and bruises. She'll be fine and you can beat yourself up about something else tomorrow.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Momisodes said...

Ugh. I am so sorry. Please don't beat yourself up over this. We really cannot prevent everything.

I hope that she does well with antibiotics this month, and that all is better in no time.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous mayberry said...

Ugh, that stinks all around. At last you DID find it, and you DID have it tested, and now she's getting the treatment she needs.

But I know how you feel ... remember the burst appendix that we treated with freaking Tums and Tylenol?!? I'll feel bad about that forever.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous mayberry said...

I meant to say "At least ..." not "At last."

10:12 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

But you DID find the tick and get her the meds, and that's what matters.

Like you mentioned, I'm often torn when figuring out what's the right amount of protectiveness and what is too much. It's such a hard line to find.

12:09 AM  
Blogger alejna said...

Oh, I'm so glad that you were on top of things. I know it's hard not to beat yourself up over this even a little bit, but it is thanks to your vigilance and attentiveness to your daughter that the problem was found this early.

I really appreciate the reminder to be vigilant about checking for ticks.

So, was there no rash? I'm getting the impression that it's fairly common for there not to be a noticeable rash.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Sayaka said...

I'm glad she's gonna be ok!

12:30 AM  
Blogger Not Hannah said...

The very fact that you saved the tick gives you points over me. (I know it's not about points, but still...) It sounds to me like you were on top of this in a way that most parents wouldn't be and I'm am dumbstruck by having such a together parent as a friend. Seriously.

So glad Miz Loaf is on her way to a full recovery (thanks to her mama...) Hugs to you, lady.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I am glad she's ok, but I totally understand questioning yourself.

You ARE a good mom. I can't imagine your girls ever needing therapy - unless it's the physical kinda.. as adults. :o)

9:15 AM  
Blogger MichelleBB said...

I'm not sure if you saw my Facebook update this week, but we're dealing with the same diagnosis. Raya woke up one morning with a huge red ring around her underarm; it was diagnosed as a spider bite. Days later, she developed the telltale bulls eye rash all over her body. Diagnosis: Lyme.

I will tell you though - four days on antibiotics and she seems well on the road to recovery.

I wouldn't beat yourself up over it at all. You're a wonderful parent.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Oh Kim.. I am so sorry ..but she will make a full recovery.. Give yourself hugs..you are an awesome mom!!

4:05 PM  
Blogger ryssee said...

Ditto what everyone else said. Thank goodness you noticed it in the bath and remembered what to do!

8:11 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

Thank you, all, for your support. I am very grateful that we found the tick and tested it and knew what to look out for, but I am also still annoyed with myself for not finding it on her RIGHT AWAY. This was all easily preventable.

JAG - yes, oral antibiotics for 28 (!) days. I am giving her yogurt daily.

Alenja - No, no rash. I was watching the bite spot like a hawk. No cold or flu symptoms either. I have heard that it can sometimes be totally asymptomatic for months, which is scary.

Michelle - Thinking of you and Raya.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Oh crap, that stinks. So sorry that it came back positive. Don't beat yourself up about it - you did find it and you are getting her treated. They can't live their lives in a bubble, you know?

3:06 PM  

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