Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lyme Meningitis

My mother got Lyme Meningitis and I wanted to write about it as it is not something usually associated with Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a problem that is unfortunately increasing as deer populations grow and people settle further into areas of high deer population.

In my mother's case, it started with a cluster migraine. She was treated for the migraine however it didn't go away and got worse eventually shifting from one side of her head to the other. At this point it was so bad, she said it was like stabbing pains in her head, she ended up going to the emergency room. The Doctors immediately suspected Meningitis and gave her antibiotics. Upon an inspection of her skin they found the telltale bullseye rash indicative of being bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease. IV therapy of antibiotics were started, she stayed in the hospital for four days before she was ready to go home with a  PICC in her arm to allow her to continue the IV antibiotics at home for the next 4 weeks. A PICC line is an intravenous catheter that is inserted in a vein in the arm going into the heart that is used for long term IV therapy.

Things to know about Lyme Meningitis-
  • Unlike Meningitis, it's not contagious, you need to be bitten from a tick carrying this specific strain of Lyme that affects the nervous system.
  • Lyme Meningitis is treated by IV antibiotics for a course of 4 weeks. Regular Lyme Disease is usually treated for 2 weeks. I will maintain that each person is an individual who may present differently, so treatment times and protocols are best determined by your Doctor. 
  • The incidence of Lyme Meningitis is lower than the incidence of Lyme Disease.
The best thing you can do is try to prevent being exposed to ticks that may carry Lyme Disease. Keep grass around the house mowed and avoid high grasses. Wear clothing that is lighter to better spot any ticks. Use repellants with DEET on skin and clothing. Tuck pants into socks. If you need to walk in an area that may have ticks do a clothing and skin check to remove any stray ticks that hitched a ride on your body. If you find a tick that is attached remove it with a pair of tweezers close to your skin, do not try to set it on fire.  If a deer tick is fully engorged or you see a bullseye rash see your Doctor to get treatment.

Deer ticks are much smaller than regular ticks. Some websites that have good pictures of ticks are:

For more information on Lyme Disease check out these websites:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring is Here!

Spring is here! People are starting to stir from a long winter of staying indoors. This is the best time of the year! In my area this is when things start to get busier for Massage Therapists. More and more people are showing an interest in going out for a massage as they venture into the fresh (albeit still chilly) Spring air. I welcome this change as I welcome the new flowers of Spring.

There is a saying that the energy you put out comes back to you and it seems this is beginning to happen. People are starting to call, what an exciting time!

With the dawn of Spring come flowers. My crocuses have been blooming for awhile now. It starts with the Cream Beauties then on to the Yellow, Purple and White Giant Crocuses. Next will be the Persian Pearl Tulips which are miniatures that bloom extra early as well. Just have to love those early bloomers! Even the last bursts of snow fail to daunt these hardy flowers that just shine tall and proud through the snow. 

Now my mind is going to what plants to put in the planters this year. I love to research plants. Cannas and Dahlias are strong contenders that will have to blend with the  Autumn Sedum I planted last year.  It looks like the Chrysanthemums from last fall are showing signs of life as well!  

Spring is truly the most wonderful time of the year!  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Considerations for Exercise with Fibromyalgia

For people with  Fibromyalgia the body overreacts to pain stimuli and a lack of restorative sleep does not help matters. There are some general things you can do that may be helpful when considering an exercise program to avoid overtaxing the body.

First off start with a good foundation- sneakers. Always purchase your sneakers or shoes in the late afternoon or evening to ensure the best fit. As the day progresses the effect of gravity causes some swelling to occur in our feet. Shoes purchased earlier in the day will bind due to this natural swelling. Another thing is purchase shoes for the sport you are planning on joining as they are designed to provide the support needed. People with flat feet or those with high arches should make sure the padding inside properly supports their feet preventing the arches from collapsing or undue strain.

Secondly- gentle stretching. To aviod injury it is important to keep your muscles flexible. There has been some change of thought in when to perform stretching exercises, initially it was felt that stretching both prior to and after exercising was most beneficial but now more is being said for stretching after exercise when the muscles are warmed up to prevent them from being too lax during exercise. In any case I found some excellent stretching exercises on ehow:
During any stretching program be careful not to lock your knees in extension and only stretch to the point of resistance.

Thirdly-type of exercise. Weight bearing exercises such as running and jogging place alot of strain upon our bodies. Joint compression forces are magnified in these activities which may aggravate tender tissues. Pacing is also important, generally a slower pace will less likely cause muscles to have a quick stretch repsonse. Some exercises you can try:
  • Walking- pay attention to the surface you walk on as well, soft surfaces such as sand provide increased difficulty. Walking through water also provides resistance the faster you walk and the deeper you go.
  • Yoga- there are many different forms of Yoga that can be tried, in addition to flexibility Yoga can also improve balance and core strength.
  • Tai Chi or Qi Gong- the fluid movements of these exercises help promote flexibility, balance, and flow of energy in the body.
  • Cycling- this is generally easiser on the knees and can be done outdoors or indoors on an exercise bike. There are different types of exercise bikes out there as well and brands with different features. There are standard styles where you are sitting upright and recumbent models where you are leaning back which may be more appealing to some.
  • Elliptical Machines-these combine the benefits of walking and cycling together which you may find easier on the body. (They were a personal favorite of mine to warm up with back when I had a membership in a gym.)
  • Swimming or Water Aerobics- You can get a great workout in a pool. Water has properties that make it an excellent medium in which to exercise namely surface tension  and buoyancy which provide resistance. Resistance can be increased using various floats and paddles. Heat is of particular note because of it's effects on the body increasing blood flow and reducing tension. The compression forces in water increase with depth which helps move fluids in the body (this is what causes the bathroom run when you get out of the pool).
In conclusion, when starting an exercise program always consult with your physician for any specific contraindications or considerations specific to you. Start slow and pace yourself, gradually increasing length and intensity as your body dictates. Stop at any sign of pain and scale back. Finally, reward yourself for your work. Buy yourself a new bathing suit there are so many new ones that compliment different body shapes that can be found on the web. Take a dip in a jacuzzi if you have access to one to reduce muscular tension. Speaking of reducing muscular tension, massage can help relax your body, ease pain in soft tissues and some studies suggest it can help improve the quality of sleep in people with Fibromyalgia. Just had to throw that in there. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring Tips for Taking Care of Your Back

Now that the winter is winding down weekend warriors start venturing out to ready their gardens for the upcoming planting season. Here are some things that can be done to reduce chance of injury to your back while working in the garden.

Warm up!- Prior to doing strenuous yard work making sure you are well rested goes without saying. It will help you focus better on your tasks.  You can do some side and back stretches. When stretching be sure to hold each stretch instead of bouncing. If it's your first time out since winter take more breaks so as not to overdo it. Don't forget to have water readily accessible to keep hydrated.

Shoveling-  It is quite common for us to shovel from the same side using the same foot even to push the shovel down into the earth. Alternate sides you hold the shovel on to keep the workload balanced for your back. Using a long handled shovel will provide you more leverage and less bending. Avoid twisting when tossing the dirt from the shovel instead pivot to turn to save your back.

Weeding- When weeding on your knees keep your tummy tucked in to prevent your back from sagging as you work. This not only protects your back but strengthens your core muscles. Again avoid any twisting movements. When bending down to pick up weeds bend at the knees not at the waist.

Lifting bags of soil- Picking up a bag of soil from the ground make sure to bend your knees to bring you closer to the bag. Lift the bag to your middle and using your legs come to stand. Hold the bag close to your middle if you are walking with it and never twist (sound like a broken record here).

Think of your back like a garden hose, when it's new it's supple and can be flexed and twisted but keep twisting that hose and you will eventually kink it and possibly cause a leak. The same goes for our backs. Using improper lifting and twisting motions puts stress on our backs that is cumulative so good habits go a long way to protecting your back.