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Phantom in the Woods

The incidence of Lyme is increasing in number and spreading well beyond the original location of Lyme, Connecticut. Awareness has also been growing and spreading. In our area of Metro Washington, DC it has gotten to the point that everyone either has it, has had it, or has a family member, friend, neighbor or dog who has Lyme Disease or has had it. It is the Mockingbird of diseases. The way it presents itself when it does (some people get Lyme and seem non-symptomatic for years) is so varied that people are sent to psychologists, orthopedists, neurologists, cardiologists, and dermatologists to give a partial list. Fatigue, joint pain, rash, mood disorder--anyone or combination of symptoms may present. The lucky ones are those who have the “classic” bull’s eye rash along with flu-like symptoms. I say lucky because they are the ones who get the right treatment right away. I put the word classic in quotes because, though it is considered classic, it presents in a small minority of cases.

Lyme is a fact, and it’s here to stay. Unfortunately, this gives parents more reason to fear to let our kids play outside. I remember once a few years ago talking to a mom who was afraid to let her kids play in a wooded area next to their home. We hold an image of the woods as being a dangerous place with the big bad wolf or strangers lurking. Theoretically, the woods next to your home should be a wonderful, magical, educational and healthy choice of environments for children to play, explore, and learn in, lest they develop “Nature Deficit Disorder” was coined by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

The reality is that there is something big and bad in the woods. Like a phantom, it is there, and BEWARE, it’s not just in the woods. It’s on the Mall in Washington, DC, it’s in the school yards and sports fields, and it’s in our backyards. What are we supposed to do? Lock your kids inside? Give up gardening? Last summer, I chose to reclaim my back yard, and as I said in a previous post, I was so happy to be able to have my kids outside that I decided to become part of the company. What are you going to do about it?