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Now that I’ve got a Facebook profile, I’ve smacked into one of the beautiful realities of the internet:  Age means nothing online. I’ve always been aware of this on a subconscious level, but Facebook brought it home to me when my daughter’s friends started friending me.  Me.  A mom.  In an earlier era, I’d be considered an old can’t-have-anything-to-do-with-her fogie.  Think of the Codename: Kids Next Door cartoon and you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Adults were the enemy.  Being a teenager was about separating yourself from uncool adults.  All that is out the window with the internet.   Anyone can contribute to the internet.  Anyone can talk to anyone else, regardless of age or nationality or gender.

Of course, I’m not so naive as to believe that there aren’t people online who will take advantage of this situation.  How many guys have been caught on To Catch a Predator because of soliciting sex from teens online?  For that reason, those of us who are responsible adults have to monitor our behavior when it comes to communicating with someone we think may be under the legal age of an adult.  I, for one, won’t be the one to initiate friending any of my daughter’s friends on Facebook.  That’d be creepy.

My sister-in-law pointed out another beautiful facet of the internet.  It’s a great place to find medical information, especially on hard-to-treat and rare disorders.  She is suffering from the effects of a long-term Lyme disease infection.  It wasn’t diagnosed until she’d had it for a year, and if you know anything about Lyme disease, early detection makes treating it far easier.  The longer one has the infection, the more likely it will cause neurological problems and the harder it is to get rid of.  Another difficulty associated with a long-term Lyme infection is that insurance companies refuse to recognize it as a disease, so they won’t cover treatment.  (Don’t get me started on how crappy health insurance companies are.  They just want to take our money and deny anyone ever has any health problems.)

If I remember correctly, my sister-in-law didn’t have the tell-tale circular rash associated with early Lyme disease, so she didn’t realize she’d been infected.  Also delaying the diagnosis was the false negative she received on the first Lyme test she took.  Apparently, this particular test is used more often for diagnosis because it is less expensive.  The downside is that it returns more false negatives than the more accurate test.  The long and the short of it is that my sister-in-law has been able to find information critical to her care online that wasn’t available ten years ago.  Yay, internet!

In honor of my sister-in-law, here are some links on Lyme disease, how to prevent it, how to tell which ticks might give it to you, and what the rash might look like.  Get in the habit of doing regular tick checks if you spend any time outdoors.

CDC – Lyme disease transmission (pictures of ticks)

Lyme Disease FAQ

NASD – Lyme prevention

Lyme Disease Foundation – photos of rash