Want to Know What Terrifies Biomed Parents?

In my last post, about Martin’s disastrous Disney morning, I mentioned a nasty insect bite on Martin’s foot that’s had me worried.

I suppose many parents worry about insect bites. They’re itchy. They can become infected. Some folks have allergies; I myself react so badly to mosquito bites that I have to rely on antihistamines. There is West Nile Virus to worry about and, elsewhere, malaria.

For many of us in the autism-recovery community, I think, bites provoke a special, heightened fear: Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, which is transmitted by ticks, primarily deer ticks, has become endemic in many parts of the United States. Lyme disease is also implicated in the issues that many children on the spectrum have. Worst of all, because Lyme disease is so hard to diagnose, and can mimic other problems, it is difficult to get proper treatment.

In November 2012, a test showed Martin slightly positive to Lyme and one of its common co-infections, bartonella. We treated him with a course of takuna and other antimicrobials, and later tests showed no indicators for Lyme. But who knows? I dread/fear another infection, or one already present and unable to be diagnosed. When Martin plays outside, I spray him with a combination of essential oil in witch hazel or apple cider vinegar. I’m not going to use the chemical repellants, and I need something to keep the bugs away.

When Lyme disease is transmitted, a tick bite often will form a “bull’s eye” rash, a spot surrounded by a red circle. Can you imagine how I freaked out when Martin’s babysitter, Samara, sent me this picture of Martin’s foot, accompanied by a note that the bite seemed to be bothering him?

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In retrospect, “freaked out” might be an understatement. I exited a business meeting to research Lyme onset and how long the rash should last. I posted the picture to an ASD group on-line, seeking advice. Within ten minutes or so, Samara sent another picture indicating that the bull’s-eye-like rash had faded already into a more traditional insect bite.

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That seemed to be good news; from my quick research, a true bull’s eye would last longer. Also, Samara reported that the bite was now itchy; according to the moms who weighed in on-line (sometimes trustworthy, sometimes not), a bull’s eye usually doesn’t itch.

These developments calmed me enough to stay at work and not demand that Samara bring Martin to meet me at the pediatrician’s office. I did email the photos to Martin’s MAPS doctor, who recommended additional anti-microbial drops as a preventative measure, and told me to visit the pediatrician or emergency facility, for antibiotics, if we noticed any other symptoms. We didn’t, thank goodness. We stayed on the extra anti-microbial drops, in case.

When the Disney morning from hell rolled around, my mind returned to the bull’s-eye-cum-mosquito-nibble. Sometimes ASD recovery feels like a continual series of freak-out moments.

Or maybe that’s just what parenting feels like.