Forest festival tick prevention

Weekend in the Woods

& Lyme Prevention Tips

I just had an amazing weekend away at Campbell Bay Music Festival on Mayne Island, BC. It was an incredible weekend spent listening to great music with the most beautiful people on breathtaking farms and in magical forests. Seriously I walked into the field and couldn’t help but think, “these are my people.”. We walked around in bare feet and sat on blankets in both the light of the sun and the moon; we swam in ponds and walked through the woods and sat in the forest. It was everything I love and more (minus the makeshift outhouses!).

For most of my life I have gone on getaways like this and not thought twice about the possibility of ticks. I wouldn’t have even worn bug spray because, in my own words, “the chemicals in that shit have got to be worse for me than anything I could possibly get from a little bug”. Naivety at its finest folks! Of course I can remember hearing the odd thing about ticks and Lyme disease but I honestly just didn’t think that it was a big risk. To this day the only tick I have ever seen in real life is one from my friend’s freezer that she pulled off her dog a couple of months ago – on Mayne Island – so it never used to cross my mind that I would get Lyme disease or that I’d ever been bit by a tick. I thought that if I had been bitten by a tick I would know, because I believed that I would find it lodged under my skin or something gross like that. Oh man, was I ever naive.

It took me a while after finding out the cause of my life-altering health concerns to feel comfortable being barefoot in the grass or to sit in the grass or walk through a forest or to garden. I know some Lyme survivors that are so filled with fear that cannot even walk through a grassy field, they need to take the paths. I am a person who needs nature in my life and I cannot sacrifice my well-being and the healing I receive from nature out of fear of being bit again. Therefore, I had to come to a place of educated awareness and safety rather than my past states of naivety, then fear.

Before living through Lyme I never would have tucked my pants into my socks while hiking, worn bug spray, or even done a proper tick check. I simply didn’t know better.

I know that there are people out there who push the bug spray or the tick checks or the prevention and education of Lyme hard and can come off as being paranoid sometimes. Though I do my best not to be that way, I am guilty of it too and that’s how I know that it stems from genuine fear. Fear that someone else might have to go through the same thing we have. Fear that we could have somehow prevented a friend or family member from going through it if we’d only educated them a little further. Fear, simply as a suffering human being, not wanting another human to suffer in the same excruciating way. I would not wish Lyme and co-infections on anybody.

I know that Lyme can be contracted in backyards and parks in my hometown of Ladner, BC, but when spending a weekend on the Gulf Islands in the woods and farm fields, I took a reasonable amount of precautions. Not because I’m crazy and paranoid or can’t sleep at night for fear of being bit, but because I’m not naive anymore and I understand my risks.

Did I wear socks up to my knees or my pants tucked into them? No. Obviously not. It was a beautiful sunny festival and I wanted to have fun and not look like a total dork. I did however use bug spray every day – the chemical-shit-storm kind with deet, even though I’ve gone almost 100% natural with all of my body and cleaning products. I did sit on a blanket instead of directly on the grass or forest ground. I did do full tick checks each night before bed. I did throw all of my clothing and towels straight into the dryer before they went in the wash or touched anything else in the house. I did vacuum the laundry room where dirt from my clothes fell and could have left poppy-seed sized ticks hiding.

This probably sounds extreme to some people – at least it would have to me pre-Lyme – but it honestly was so easy and has minimized my risk factor significantly. Of course there is always going to be the risk of being re-infected due to missing one, or being bit while at the festival and never finding it, or even of one latching onto me after I got home from within my own yard, but at least I know that I did what I could do to prevent this for myself – especially, but not limited to, during a higher risk situation like this weekend. My memories from this festival can now hopefully continue to be ones of beauty and healing, rather than one of, “I really wish I’d just put on the bug spray”.

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