Sunday, May 19, 2019

Lyme Disease Awareness Month: We Need "Awareness"

May is a month when people in temperate climates start spending more time outside. It's a flourishing time for all kinds of natural life. Trees, grass, animals, bugs, ticks...

Not surprisingly, "Lyme Disease Awareness Month" is an official designation for May in a number of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States in the USA (including my own dear Virginia). And it seems to be a common theme in many other places, and of course on the Internet.

We are prompted to be aware of so many important things that it can be hard to keep up. But Lyme is something, unfortunately, that I can't help "being aware of" not only in May, but throughout the year.

Frankly, I wish I could forget about it. But it keeps nudging me and poking me and demanding attention of some sort.

Actually, I have grown accustomed to coping with the persistent consequences of a Lyme Disease infection that went untreated for 17 years. We worked hard on fighting my infection in the previous decade (starting in 2004, when it was finally diagnosed) and I think we made some progress. Still, 17 years is a long time.

I have had to adapt, to reorient the pace of my life, to accept certain limits with the determination to be constructive - even to flourish in new ways - within those limits. It's a particular challenge, not so different from many kinds of challenges that many people face every day. All things considered, I'm doing okay. Things could have been a lot worse, and I have heard many stories from people who have endured (and continue to endure) more than I could bear.

But nobody in today's world needs to wait 17 years for a Lyme diagnosis. The awareness of this elusive, disturbing, frustrating, and in some cases catastrophic disease has grown significantly in our society. The population of the ticks that carry and transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, unfortunately, has also grown significantly.

We don't need to panic. We just need to be aware and take reasonable precautions. There are effective tick repellents now, and it's important to check for ticks after outdoor events, to be aware of early warning signs of Lyme infection, and to get treatment if necessary. The earlier the treatment, the better chance for full recovery.

For more information, check out the resources of the Global Lyme Alliance HERE.

Advances in research are very promising, but - once again - there needs to be more awareness so that this work gets more funding.

And while the "celebrity culture" is so often a source of negativity, it can be quite helpful when well-known persons share stories about their own struggles with illnesses and dedicate themselves to raising awareness as well as financial assistance for others in need. I'm impressed with all the hard work Avril Lavigne continues to do in this regard, even as she paces herself through her own remission while releasing new music.

Many of her fans would rather see her on another world tour, promoting her album, making more videos, or doing outrageous things that rock stars do to get attention and get their face on magazine covers. But fans will have to be patient with the new rhythms of Avril's life. She still has lots of music in her. Meanwhile she continues to show her face for the fight against Lyme Disease, to inform, support, and encourage others.

Click HERE to see video.

This is not easy. It's not easy for her. It's not helping her career. She would rather not talk about this stuff (and I understand why). But Avril, the perennial "rock chick," is turning out to be tough in ways she never expected. And I am grateful for her gritty vulnerability, which is real and not just part of "the show."