Trying to kill Babesia – the Lyme disease journey continues

Babesia Microti courtesy of CDC

Babesia Microti courtesy of CDC

The good news is I can sleep through the night without tucking an extra night-shirt under my pillow to deal with drenching night sweats. The bad news is after two rounds of eliminating the sweats by taking Cryptolepis, we are certain that I have Babesia along with the Lyme Disease. In spite of that, I am feeling really hopeful that with a concerted effort to get rid of it that I will be able to take one more step forward with my Lyme disease recovery.

So what the heck is Babesia you ask? Babesia is a red blood cell parasite and is sort of a “sinister sister” to Lyme disease. Like Lyme it is a tick-borne infection and it is not uncommon to get both illnesses at once from a single tick bite. It sort of works synergistically with the Lyme against the host in that if you have Lyme, it is very difficult to get rid of Babesia and visa versa.

Babesia is very difficult to test for. According to the presenter from the IGENEX laboratory at last year’s Lyme conference, the testing is only about 30% accurate (worse than a toss of a coin). The test is very specific so if you get a positive test you can be pretty confident in those results. Unfortunately, the test is not very sensitive so a negative test only means they weren’t able to find it in that sample. It does not mean that you can say with any confidence that you don’t have Babesia. Even scarier, Babesia sneaks into the blood supply through donors who don’t know they are infected and there is no test available to screen donations.

Babesia is not particularly easy to treat either with the most common pharmaceutical treatments being pretty expensive with some pretty strong side-effects and no guarantee of a cure. Since we know that the Cryptolepis has been at least effective enough to stop the symptoms, we are going to continue that and added Copmine another anti-malarial herb. The plan is to take them both for the next 3 months. I’m crossing my fingers that the symptoms won’t come back again this time and am looking forward to seeing what this means for my last lingering Lyme symptoms. It would be so cool after 27 months of treatment to be totally off medications or at least reduce them to a very low maintenance dose!  Regardless, I continue to count my blessings that I am a good 90% or so recovered with my remaining symptoms well-managed.  There are many others who have not been so lucky including a fellow member of our local Lyme group who passed away this month after a long struggle.

In the meantime, stay healthy! Remember, if you find an attached tick on your body save the tick and consider having it tested. Direct tests on ticks for Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme disease) and other tick-borne infections are about 99% accurate compared to just 30-60% accurate in people. Remove the carefully with tweezers by pulling it slow & steady. Put it into a baggie or empty medicine vile with a damp cotton ball. If it is embedded and obviously feeding for a while, you might want to send it out right away for testing. Otherwise, if you end up with a bull’s eye rash or other signs of illness you can send your saved tick in for testing and save yourself a lot of trouble trying to figure out what infection(s) you may have. In New England, you can send your tick to UMass in Amherst. IGENEX laboratory in California also tests ticks.

Some very helpful resources:

tick testing at UMASS

Tick Encounter Resource Center – University of Rhode Island

Igenex tests on ticks or tests for people

Art homework

I’m not sure why but I really enjoyed doing this week’s drawing class homework. I rather like the results too. In class this week we “drew” with ripped & cut pieces of paper. The idea was to look at shapes, light and dark, and which shapes are in front or in back.

My piece was created mostly from other artists’ cast off mono-prints as well as some magazine photographs. I love the texture and colors from the prints and tried to align the movement and light and dark areas with the beautiful bouquet of fresh tulips we were trying to recreate – composting at its best!

The homework was to then draw the piece we had created in class– an interpretation of an interpretation. I guess what I liked the most about it was that it felt joyful and it surprised me how this image one step removed from the original object was both similar and unique.  So when I look at the drawing it makes me happy.

The homework was to then draw the piece we had created in class– an interpretation of an interpretation. I guess what I liked the most about it was that it felt joyful. So when I look at the drawing it makes me happy.

Weeding in church

Today was a perfect day. I got to be outside from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm starting with a 1 ½ hour hike on a small local mountain. When I got home I couldn’t bear to go inside on such a sunny day, so I didn’t. I planted the pansies I bought last weekend, some in a pot on the porch and some at the base of the bird bath and then started the spring task of cleaning out the gardens. Pulling out dead flower stalks, raking leaves and pulling out grass that is already threatening to overtake my gardens even though most of the flowers haven’t even begun to grow yet! I was in heaven – enjoying the warmth of the spring sun, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze and connecting with the earth with my bare hands and bare feet; feeling love for the world and feeling peaceful. If that isn’t being in church, I don’t know what is.

planted pansies.  in about 6 weeks it will be warm enough to plant summer flowers

planted pansies. in about 6 weeks it will be warm enough to plant summer flowers

look what I found!  it was hiding underneath the grass and dried stalks

look what I found! it was hiding underneath the grass and dried stalks

foxglove & bellflower coming back to life.  Can you see the beautiful bell shaped pink and purple flowers that will be here in several weeks?

foxglove & bellflower coming back to life. Can you see the beautiful bell shaped pink and purple flowers that will be here in several weeks?

can't wait for these to open.  There are over 30 daffodil buds in these clumps!

can’t wait for these to open. There are over 30 daffodil buds in these clumps!

all raked.  i am intrigued by the micro-climates in the yard.  under the leaves was the last bit of ice.  in full summer the plants will fill this bed with texture & color.

all raked. i am intrigued by the micro-climates in the yard. under the leaves was the last bit of ice. in full summer the perennials that are still sleeping will fill this bed with texture & color.

top of Chesley looking across the valley toward the far ridge.  where we started our day right after breakfast.  took my shoes off and laid down to soak up some sun.  bliss.

top of Chesley looking across the valley toward the far ridge. where we started our day right after breakfast. took my shoes off and laid down to soak up some sun. bliss.

The Ghost in the Door Yard

ghost in door yard (450x600)What stories can trees tell?

This dying Maple tree out in the local state forest isn’t just any tree. It grows along an abandoned class six road and is the last living witness to the pioneering family who was one of the first families that settled in our town. This tree was in their door yard and would have watched husband and wife tend to livestock, a garden, cut firewood, hunt game and add children to their family and eventually watch as they were all buried in the family plot just beyond.

If you look carefully just to the left of this grandma tree you can see an old foundation. It is pretty good-sized and there is a smaller one across the road. I don’t know if the larger one was for the family or was a barn. At one point in the 1800s, all of this area was deforested (as was nearly 80% of the state) for sheep farming.

Buying pansies a favorite spring ritual

The beginning of April means pansies and my first trip of the season to the nursery a joyful time of looking at all the happy pansy faces and picking out the flat or two that makes me smile the most.   It is as exciting to me as getting a Christmas tree – probably more so.  What’s not to love about flowers that can survive spring frosts and spring snow and grace us with their cheerful colorful smiles while other flowers are still tucked safely in their seeds.

pot of Matrix Midnight Glow and pot of Delta Forumla mix

pot of Matrix Midnight Glow and pot of Delta Forumla mix

Winter’s Shadow

When I went to bed it was spring. Half-way through my sleep I woke to a roaring wind and the sound of sleet hitting on the sky-lights over the bed.  Winter’s shadow had returned not quite ready to go peacefully. Out of respect we will let you have one more day.

winter shadow (600x450)

daffodils wearing a wrap of snow

daffodils wearing a wrap of snow

Spring: when every day is a miracle

What I love most about spring is that every day is a miracle.  Another flower opens, the chives visibly grow a 1/2 an inch or more a day, another bird stops in at the feeders as they migrate to their summer homes.

Yesterday the buds finally popped on my daffodils that live in the warm micro-climate next to the foundation on the south side of the house.  Then overnight – a miracle!  What spring miracle did you see today?

welcome friends!

welcome friends!

so happy to see you!

so happy to see you!

stay as long as you like

stay as long as you like