Saturday, August 13, 2011

Squeaky, Lyme Disease and Ticks

Lutz, Florida

We enjoyed our day not having to move or have any service people come inside.  The new refrigerator seems to be working fine, but we do notice opening the doors really bring the inside temperature up.  We never seemed to have any problems in the old Dometic refrigerator, but then again, it was half the size, so maybe that was why.  Margie said Norcold’s are known as “not cold.”  I guess we’ll have to live with it.

We got a call back from the Vet yesterday.  The tests results,  came back inconclusive, but likely that she has lymphoma.  They did find immature  lymphoma cells in her blood.  This may sound like bad news, but at this point, we are happy to have some kind of diagnosis that we can at least try to treat.  Even though it is not curable, we are hoping to give her some time and quality of life.  The way things are going right now, we would have a very short time left with her.   The vet called in a prescription for the chemo drug, Leukeran.   It was inexpensive ( $37).  We will give her a pill every other day.  Dr. Drake said cats normally tolerate it very well with minimal side effects…affects?    We start them today.  Wish us luck.  We feel better that at least now we are possibly doing something that might help her.  Yes, we love our girl!

I also wanted to give an update on my Mother.  She kept going to doctor after doctor and none of them could find what was wrong with her.  Last month, by accident,  they discovered she had a 95% blocked artery,  and they put in a stent.   Unfortunately, that didn’t make her feel any better.  She kept complaining of this discomfort/pressure in her chest.  We thought it was heart related due to the location of the pressure, but they assured us her heart was fine.  Of course, they assured us of that right before they discovered the 95-99% blocked artery! 

Anyway, after the stent, she thought she’d start feeling better. She didn’t, and still had that horrible feeling in her chest.

We think we may now know what some of her problems are.  This may help others.

Several years ago, she found out that she had Lyme Disease (caused by a tick).  I don’t know how she got it, because my Mother is NOT an outdoorsy type of girl!  Where she got a tick is a mystery to me.  She lives in a subdivision in the middle of Tampa and she doesn’t go hiking, walking, kayaking or anything like that.

She was treated for the Lyme disease, for months with some heavy duty intravenous drugs.  She had hoped that would help her to feel better when she finished treatment.  It didn’t.

Just by luck,  a few months ago, a doctor she visited (one of many) told her that they recently discovered that people with Lyme Disease can also have a number of other bacterial tick borne diseases.  At the time she got diagnosed with Lyme Disease, they didn’t know of the existence of these other infections.    She was tested and they confirmed  that she did have one of these other infections.  The doctor thought that could be causing some of her problems.

Three weeks ago she started on a new anti-biotic.  This one is by mouth not iv, fortunately.  She has actually started feeling better.  She has days where she can actually do something, besides nap and sit in her recliner.  We are hopeful this will solve her problems and give her a better quality of life.

I want to share what we’ve learned about  Lyme  Disease.  It is caused by a bite of a tick. I am no means an expert, but I do know that if you get a tick, it can very easily cause a problem that you may not know about for years.

If you get a tick bite, you will likely get a red spot on your skin soon after. 

It could look like this:

Lyme disease and other tick borne bacterial diseases  BADA UK 2

or this:

Lyme disease and other tick borne bacterial diseases  BADA UK

I think when you get this red spot or rash, is when you need to see a doctor.  Al has gotten several ticks on him over the years, but we don’t recall seeing any of these types of rashes.  We like to hike at the state parks and they can have ticks, even on marked trails.   We think he got his when he went off the trail a little bit, but we’re not sure.  For some reason, they seem to prefer him.

Al does pest control and gets calls frequently from some of the veterinarians that they have ticks in their office.  I guess the dogs bring in the ticks.  So if you take your dog to the vet, you could end up bringing home a tick.  Maybe that’s how Mom got hers. 

I found a tick on me last winter when I got out of the car to read a sing in a state park.  I was in a parking lot!  When I got back into the car I found a small tick crawling on my arm.  It didn’t bite me.  Just understand, that ticks can be anywhere, not just in the woods.  Be aware of them and that red spot/rash on your skin.


  1. So glad to hear that you have a diagnosis for Squeaky and that she can have a quality of life with you guys for a little longer. And I sure hope the antibiotics help your Mom to feel better. That Lyme Disease is a terrible thing.

  2. It's "side effects" by the way. "Affect" is a verb, as in "Using this medicine may affect a change, without side effects". (First one: action, Second one: a result.)
    This is one of my pet peeves, which is why I piped up.
    Hope that was effective.

    Ticks make my skin crawl. When we were in Slovenia checking out an old property owned by a member of my wife's family, we were darned vigilant for ticks. Just the same, they can be most anywhere.

  3. Fingers crossed for Squeaky and your mom, not mandatorily in that order.

    I've never had a tick (that I knew about) until we were in Virginia in May. I never suspected there were so many ticks in the world.

  4. Now that you have the diagnosis I hope both Squeaky and your Mom are feeling better real soon.

    Wayne was bitten by a tick several years ago and got the Lyme disease luckily he hasn't had any recent problems.

  5. Thank you for the interesting post about Lyme disease. Full timers are certainly at a greater risk for being exposed. I am so glad your Mom is feeling better and being treated appropriately.

    Poor Squeaky...she sure has been through a lot.

  6. Thanks for the info on ticks and Lyme Disease. Nice to know those things before they are needed.

    I hope your mom feels better soon. It sounds like she has been through a lot.

    I hope Squeaky does well with the new meds. Poor baby.

  7. I kep a little refrigerator fan in my fridge... If you don't have ine you should get one. It helpd but I usually have to keep the fridge set on 9 during the summer months and 7/8 during the winter. As far as ticks you can easily pick them up at most any campground that is in the woods... Especially state parks. I've had 3 this summer and it does scare me. Thanks for the info on them... Sorry about your little kitty ~ Will she lose her fur from the chemo? I hope she does well on it! As for mom I hope she gets to feeling better really soon!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  8. Lyme disease is very difficult. It often goes undiagnosed for years, and people are treated like hypochondriacs. The daughter of one of my good High School friends was a very smart girl, graduated from college and was on her way to med school when she became sick.

    They treated her for years for everything from chronic fatigue syndrome to depression.

    When she was 29 she was finally diagnosed with Lyme. Unfortunately the disease had ruined her relationship, her education, and she committed suicide a few days before her 30th Birthday.

    Take your mothers pain and tiredness seriously. It is very real.

  9. Glad Squeaky will now have a chance at a better quality of life. We aren't on the same chemo pills - $37 isn't too bad.

    I was just thinking about your mom yesterday and wondered how she was doing. Maybe now she will finally start feeling better.

    We always had ticks in TN. Rarely made it through the year without getting some. Dogs always had them before the new drugs like Advantage. Our Collie in Florida got covered with them - she never had them in PA.

  10. Thanks for the Lyme Disease info. I know a little about it but the info on other tick born infections was good to know. I agree those of us full timers may be a little more susceptible because we are out walking, hiking etc. a little more than most people.
    Hope Squeaky starts feeling better.

  11. Sure hope Squeaky is doing better. It is very hard when our pets are sick and we don't know what actually is wrong with them. I hope that Squeaky doesn't have any reactions to the new medication. Whiskey is still having problems (we think, due to the rabies shot), hopefully she will be doing better by tomorrow.

    Kevin and Ruth

  12. Great information on Lyme disease. I had no idea there were other disease one could get.

    We lived on a farm with a lot of woods in Virginia for 0ver 30 years and often had ticks when we came home from hiking but hadn't even heard of Lyme disease until about 10 years ago.

    Hope Squeaky's meds go well for her and that your mom continues to improve.


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