Hint: It's not the lack of helmet...
What I'm talking about is something different. Something smaller.
Something that, in the worst case, will draw your death out into many painful years of physical and mental incapacity as you slowly lose control of your limbs, your mind, and eventually your heart.
The threat is a tick.
And some of the best parts about longboarding put us perfectly within their reach.
Be it in city parks or rugged natural landscapes, these little guys and gals are enjoying a longer active season, better breeding and expanded range thanks to the planet being slightly warmer than it used to be.
I've been lucky. Whilst still dealing with heavy physical Lyme symptoms 2 years after my initial bite, I appear to be free of infection and thus am hopeful that it will not end my life.
But this email newsletter is not only a vehicle for me to offer myself therapy through writing - the idea is to offer value to you! So, here's the juice:
Avoid the little buggers
If your mission takes you into grass short or long, the following are options to help avoid ticks:
- Long trousers (socks tucked in for style points)
- Repellent. Ingredients range from oil of lemon eucalyptus (least tested, likely least effective, but also least harmful to yourself and wildlife), to Picaridin to DEET.
- Treat clothing/tent with Permethrin. Will kill all insects that come into contact with it and potentially cats, too. Questionable as to whether this counts as "leave no trace" or is indeed a good idea at all.
When you get home
Check yourself before they wreck your self! They like it warm and will crawl towards the backs of knees, groin, armpits, etc.
A (good) friend or mirror will help with this task. The nymphs are tiny.
They can survive on clothing - a hot wash will sort that out for you.
No need to picture it regurgitating it's Lyme-filled belly into your bloodstream just yet.
The quicker you get it out the better - you can use a tick removal tool or some tweezers. Grab close to the skin, twist and pull.
If the head is left in, better to dig it out...
Keep an eye on the site. Any sign of a rash - go to the doctor. Any other symptoms - often flu-like, brain-fog, achey or feverish - go to the doctor.
You need a 3-week course of Doxycycline and the faster the better. It's miserable stuff and means 3 weeks out of the sun, but it's better than the alternative.
Only 30-40% of Lyme infections come with the typical bullseye rash - so don't simply forget about it if no rash appears.
Your doctor - and don't get me wrong, I love doctors - may not be all that familiar with the UK guidelines. Feel free to get to know them yourself, print them and take them along if you deem it necessary.
I'll have some more skate-related content next week, but this one felt important to get out during the summer season.
Check yourselves, check each other, and don't risk ending your life as you know it.
Sending loads of love and good vibes to anyone dealing with stuff they'd rather not right now!
Matt @ Vandem