Friday, April 26, 2013

Beware of Ticks, Painters

Last year I contracted Lyme's Disease while painting en plein air.

I neglected to wear bug spray; I was walking in weedy fields and the woods; I wore shorts and loose fitting tops. I didn't shower as soon as I left the field.   I did everything wrong.

After my first day of painting, I was covered in insect, I bought some insect repellant was apparently too late.  I painted for five days during this contest in Pennsylvania and by the next weekend, when I arrived home, I was feeling tired and drained of all energy.  I had one particularly red insect bite in the very middle of my back which I kept watching throughout the following week.  All other mosquito and gnat bites disappeared, but  this bite remained red and angry.

Meanwhile, I was feeling just awful.  I would wake up in the morning around 7 am, and nap again at 10 am.  I'd fall asleep again at 2 pm and then sleep all night.  I felt achy.  I had headaches.  I was dragging myself to teach my time progressed, I began to feel incredibly ill.

I was almost grateful when, at the end of that second week, a pale red "bull's eye" rash formed around that one insect bite in the very middle of the back.

Now, I knew what was making me sick.  I had Lyme's Disease.  This was readily confirmed by blood tests and my physician, and I was immediately placed on a round of antibiotics.

So, painters!  Watch yourself and take all precautions you can and read up about Lyme's Disease.  I now wear long pants with socks tucked over them and I spray my clothing with spray containing DEET.  I tend to paint along the road, instead of in the weeds.  I shower immediately after finishing,
and I check my body for those nasty little creatures. 

Happy painting, everyone,  and take care of yourself out there in the field.....

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