A hairdresser often asks such questions as what type of style or length is desired. Or whether you’d like highlights or a certain color. Michelle Pyan’s hairdresser asked her if she was aware of the rash on the back of her scalp. That was May 2012 and that question led to a new, at some point exhausting, journey for Michelle.
A month later, she felt awful. “It was like the flu but didn’t clear up,” she recalled. “I ran my business and slept – nothing else.” That time included some 16-hour sleeps. She was an avid golfer, but her clubs remained untouched during this period. Her balance was off, at times. Many tests for this illness were negative. But then there were more tests and medical care, the dots connected, and the answer became clear—Lyme Disease. During the months and months of treatment that followed, Michelle improved but realized that as she has chronic Lyme Disease, she would need to continue to be attentive to her health.
With a master’s of business administration and as founder and president of Commercial Investigations, a licensed private investigative agency and Certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise, Michelle is used to examining and gathering the facts and mapping strategies to address situations. She put those skills, along with her entrepreneurial spirit, to deal with the disease.
Her study included adverse ingredients in some medicines, bug sprays and other such products. The interest in preventive and holistic measures, she noted, came up frequently in those readings and discussions, including with those who shared this disease. They were looking for something that was cost-effective and natural. “I wanted to do what I could to help,” she said.
That’s where that entrepreneurial approach came into play. She teamed up with Saratoga Springs native Andrew Bullis, who holds a degree in biochemistry and cellular biology, to create Tick ENEMY. It is an essential blend of geranium, Palo Santo, myrrh, grapefruit, and peppermint oils, along with Castile soap and distilled water that is shaken well and then applied. (tickenemy.com). They began production in a micro lab environment in Saratoga. The feedback of those initially using Tick ENEMY was encouraging. They appreciated the natural ingredients and liked the smell; moms found it easy to apply, Michelle said. Production is now going to a macro-lab.
Tips to keep ticked off
The New York State Health Department notes that ticks can spread disease and although not all ticks can cause disease and not all bites will make you sick as these diseases become more common it’s important to learn how to prevent a bite, how to remove a tick and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease.
What disease in seen in New York State? Lyme Disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in New York but there are other serious diseases spread by ticks, such as has been reported in recent weeks. Lyme Disease can affect people of any age.
Where do ticks live and when are they active? Ticks frequent shady, moist areas at ground level where they cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. Ticks can be active any time the temperature is above 45°. Remember, adults are the size of sesame seeds and the nymphs are no bigger than poppy seeds.
How do they get on you and where do they go then? No, they don’t jump but they will attach themselves to you when you brush along the grass or shrubs, etc., where they live. Then they usually climb upward until they find a protected area on you.
How do you keep ticks off? Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily, enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
Is there a tick on you? Try to check for ticks every two or three hours—don’t wait, if possible, if you plan to be outdoors for a longer period. Bathe as soon as possible when you come inside from gardening, hiking, playtime or other activities outdoors. Look for ticks while you bathe. Remember, ticks may have crawled to a hard-to-see location. Then do a final check. Help your child bathe and check, too.
What do you do if you see a tick on you? Remove it as soon as possible but do so correctly. Using tweezers, grasp tick near the mouth parts, as close to skin as possible. Pull the tick in a steady, upward motion away from skin. Disinfect the site with soap and water, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Do not use kerosene, petroleum jelly or matches for this process. Make a note of the date and location of the bite. The sooner you remove the tick, the better.
What are the signs of Lyme Disease? Early symptoms usually appear within 3 to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick. In 60-80 percent of cases, a circular bull’s eye rash about two inches in diameter appears and expands around or near the site of the tick bite. Sometimes, multiple rash sites appear. One or more of the following symptoms usually mark the early stage of Lyme Disease: chills and fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain, and swollen glands. If Lyme Disease is unrecognized or untreated in the early stage, more severe symptoms may occur. As the disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff aching neck, and tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur. The most severe symptoms of Lyme Disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after the tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis, swelling of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems.
When should you call a doctor after a tick bite? If you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.