Author Archives: Wendy Thomas

About Wendy Thomas

Wendy is a journalist, writer, blogger and the Tech Blog Manager at Constant Contact.

Lesson 1120 – The current state of Lyme disease treatment in New Hampshire

fda.gov

fda.gov

Yesterday I got a call from New Hampshire’s U.S. Senator Shaheen’s office regarding a letter I had written about  Lyme disease symptoms in my family and Lyme disease treatment in New Hampshire. I had a chat with one of her aides and this is the email I sent her this morning.

I will continue to fight the good fight on Lyme disease because so many people are unnecessarily being harmed.

It’s not that hard – Lyme disease (and its co-infections) are bacterial infections. We have the drugs to wipe them out.

The problem is that Lyme disease symptoms are not being recognized, testing is abysmal, and treatment varies from Doctor to Doctor.

When it is standard treatment to treat the tuberculosis bacteria for 9 months with multiple antibiotics (and then to treat a relapse, which often occurs within 12 months of stopping treatment) because in the chronic stage the bacteria can form a bio-film that makes antibiotic penetration difficult, I find it hard to understand why Doctors in New Hampshire (the #1 state for reported Lyme disease cases) will dispense 2 – 6 weeks of antibiotics for a CHRONIC Lyme infection (where the bacteria also forms bio-films) and then sends you off to a specialist or even a psychiatrist if your symptoms come back.

If ever there was a definition of stubborn-insanity, it’s that.

I’m just not going to keep quiet about this one.

This is what I sent the to the Senator (and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.)

Our Family –

My kids, after years of struggling, are getting the help they need. I can see significant improvement with their conditions through *just* the use of antibiotics.

As for me, last summer, before I was diagnosed and began treatment, my body was wracked with tendonitis, joint, and nerve pain. I could only go up a flight of stairs if I used my hands to crawl up. My DHMC’s solution was to give me massive amounts of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and 120 OxyContin tablets A MONTH. Since starting treatment for Lyme disease I have been taking only antibiotics and have not had any narcotics since December 13. Think for a minute about the medical and financial implications of that.

I want to repeat that that’s only with antibiotics. This past Spring, I started playing tennis again. Do I still have symptoms? Of course I do, Lyme has done damage but when you treat the cause instead of the symptoms, you get significant relief.
Money –

I know of many people with Lyme disease (and it’s co-infections which most Dr.s don’t even know about) who have struggled financially as a result. You shouldn’t have to lose your house just because you got sick and especially when the solution is well known, but just not dispensed.

Death –

I have heard of several deaths directly related to Lyme disease – a BACTERIAL INFECTION that can be treated with antibiotics. Most people with Lyme disease look healthy on the outside, it’s difficult to get someone to believe that you are really sick (which is why so many Dr.s send Lyme patients to psychiatrists.)

Often by the time they show persistent symptoms, these patients have tipped into a chronic condition that is significantly more difficult to treat.

Children –

As a journalist and Lyme advocate, I hear story after story of children suffering and being diagnosed with auto-immune diseases. Often these conditions spontaneously arise in the winter months. A consideration, of course, is untreated Lyme disease from the summer months, but who thinks of ticks in the winter?

Schools –

It has been documented and is well accepted that if Lyme disease passes the brain barrier, it creates cognitive impairment. My own daughter went from being a strong student to getting 4 “Fs” in one semester because she had a relapse and literally couldn’t remember anything. She is back on treatment and her cognitive function has greatly improved. How many kids are being placed in the Special Education program because what they really have is a bacterial infection?

Disability -

We are starting to include chronic Lyme disease patients as part of the disabled community that we cover in The New Hampshire Challenge. A bacterial infection is creating a large sub-class of disabled residents.
Epidemic –

New Hampshire has the greatest reported number of Lyme cases in the Union. On top of that the CDC estimates (and they admit that the numbers are probably much higher) that Lyme disease is under-reported by 10X. That means that we have an epidemic in New Hampshire. People are hurting, physically, financially, and economically.

Charlatans –

With any kind of pain and suffering, there are those who will sell snake oil. Many of these “cures” are not regulated and may be more harmful than helpful. But when your Doctor won’t or can’t help you, what are you going to do?

Background:

I am a journalist with a degree in English and Medical Biology (and an unfinished MA in Corporate Communications.) I worked for several years as a clinical microbiologist. I understand medical science and I know how to conduct research.

Recommendations:

  • Better and definitive diagnostic testing for Lyme disease and its co-infections
  • Patients should receive information (much like they do with vaccinations) that the current testing for Lyme Disease is highly unreliable – they should be provided with steps on what to look for and what to do if tests come back negative and they still suspect that Lyme disease may be the culprit.
  • Better education on diagnose of the condition for physicians
  • Better education on symptoms and prevention for the general public
  • Better and definitive diagnostic testing for Lyme disease and its co-infections
  • Patients should receive information (much like they do with vaccinations) that the current testing for Lyme Disease is highly unreliable – they should be provided with steps on what to look for and what to do if tests come back negative and they still suspect that Lyme disease may be the culprit.
  • Better education on diagnose of the condition for physicians
  • Better education on symptoms and prevention for the general public
  • Standards of treatment established.
  • Required tick/Lyme training for any coach of a team that plays outdoors (soccer, football)
  • Required tick/Lyme training for anyone who wants a fishing or hunting license
  • Yearly testing for Lyme disease for anyone who lives in a high risk situation – hikes, lives near woods, has outdoor animals, etc.
  • Awareness on a State and Federal level that Lyme disease is an epidemic that is much more than a simple “summer flu” people are dying, children are getting very sick and all unnecessarily. There has to be public statements and support.

Pieces I have written about Lyme disease:

Parenting New Hampshire –

http://www.parentingnh.com/May-2012/What-all-parents-should-know-about-Lyme-disease/

(Also currently working on a “Parenting Children with Lyme Disease” article)

The New Hampshire Challenge –

Lessons Learned from the Flock – (search “Lyme Disease”)

http://simplethrift.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/lesson-852-lyme-disease-the-tests-are-in/

This is what Chronic Lyme looks like:

http://chroniclymelookslike.wordpress.com/

Community Chickens:

http://www.communitychickens.com/ticks-and-lyme-disease-in-chickens-jurys-still-out/

I am also working on a book manuscript of our family’s trials with Lyme disease in New Hampshire.

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Lesson 1119 – Chickens in the winter – how to care for your flock

IMG_20140118_115558127We’re heading into the colder months and new-time chicken owners are already starting to have anxiety attacks. “How, oh how will I be able to keep my babies warm?” they fret as they look into expensive heaters and even sweaters knit for chickens. (Go ahead and ask me how I know. I was once a first time chicken owner too, you know.)

Chickens have always known what to do in cold weather, as the owner you simply need to provide the basics (and nope, no matter how cute, a sweater is not a basic.)

I had one reader contact me to ask about winter preparation, she wanted to use hay on the floor of the outdoor run and she wanted to put tarps up to protect her flock from wind and snow in the run (the birds all had access to a fully enclosed coop from the run area.)

Before you do anything, I told her, just take a deep breath. I live in New Hampshire where we also have very cold winters. Your chickens will be able to figure out how to survive even the coldest winter on their own. Continue reading

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Response from Manna Pro on feeding Goat Treats to dogs (Pippin)

In an earlier post, I wrote about how in an effort not to waste some Goat Treat Samples I was given at the Mother Earth News Fair, I fed some to my dog, Pippin (4 pellets was enough of a treat for him.)  I wrote to Manna Pro to ask if there were any problems in feeding these treats to dogs and this is their reply:

 

Good morning Ms. Thomas:

I hope you enjoyed the Mother Earth News Fair as much as I did.

I am so glad that your flock loved the treats —thank you for including the photo on your blog.

According to Dr. Rob McCoy Manna Pro Vice President, Nutrition and Quality Assurance, there are no ingredients harmful to dogs in the Goat Treats.  However, Goat Treats do not go through extrusion cooking, as do most dog foods, and the starch could lead to digestive upset in dogs.  Thus, feeding Goat Treats to dogs should be discouraged.

Best to you, your flock and Pippin!

***

I had to look up exactly what extrusion cooking was and here is an explanation from wisegeek.com Continue reading

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Ann Bee’s Natural Soap Discount code

The other day when I wrote about the Mother Earth News Fair, I used a photo of some particularly beautiful soap (and can I just say that using great smelling soap in the shower is like having a tiny vacation?) from Ann Bee’s Natural.

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Ann Bee’s were so tickled I used their soap in my photo that they’ve extended a coupon discount to any of my readers who want to order online. Continue reading

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Lesson 1118 – Quotable Chicks

Friday’s Quotes for the Chicks

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“When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock”

An early cold snap is upon us and we woke with temps in the mid 30’s and up north it’s even dropping into the 20’s (Fahrenheit.)

Not only is there frost on the pumpkin, but if you’re not careful there’s also ice.

Do you remember my piece about our chickens molting early – and then everyone else chimed in that they were seeing it in their flocks too? And how if you listened to the old-timers, this meant that we were in for a harsh winter?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Well, it ain’t over till the fat rooster crows, but I’m going to be keeping my eye on this one. Continue reading

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Lesson 1117 – Manna Pro Treats

At the Mother Earth News fair, there were many  vendors. When I was walking by the Manna Pro booth, a woman working at the counter asked me if I had chickens.

Well, if there’s ever a conversation starter for me that’s it.

“Yes, I did,” I told her. “Tell me about what you have.” She told me about the Manna Pro feed options and then she handed me sample bags of Harvest Delight  and Garden Delight for poultry. Filled with seeds, dried fruits, and oils, this stuff looked good enough for me to eat. Instead of eating it though (my eyes were on the mashed potato bar), I filled out a form requesting more information and then tucked the samples into my bag.

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“Here take this one too,” she said as she handed me another bag of treats. Continue reading

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Lesson 1116 – Thin shelled egg question

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I recently got this question from a reader and thought I’d pass it on.

Question: We got two new Marans this spring, to add to our older Maran and our two leghorns, who are the oldest. We now have the situation where every single white egg, possibly only when laid in a laying box, is smashed. It is opened on one side, sometimes with a smaller opening on another side; not flattened, though. Is this the aggressive move of another hen? What can be done about it? The white shells are much thinner than the brown but the browns do not appear to be tampered with.

Answer: It’s interesting that you only have problems with the white eggs. Because of thin shells I would first question the amount of calcium your flock is getting, if they are free ranging, they might not be getting enough. We typically use 5 pounds of crushed oyster shell to 50 pounds of feed. Make sure your chickens have access to some source of calcium at all times.

If they are free ranging, also make sure that they are not feeding near yards or gardens that have been chemically treated as this can sometimes thin the shell. Continue reading

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