Wednesday, May 27, 2020

An Ongoing Epidemic: Lyme Disease Awareness Month

The last thing people want to think about these days is another strange widely-spread disease.

The good news is that you cannot catch this disease from other people. The bad news is that the insects carrying this infection are probably in your front yard. We are talking, of course, about the peculiar tick that carries the bacteria and other microbial co-infections commonly referred to as Lyme Disease.

Oh yeah, you're used to being worried about that one.

The tragic and dramatic events regarding COVID-19 that we are living through right now have probably taken precedence on your worry list over many other things. You may have even forgotten that May is "Lyme Disease Awareness Month." I almost forgot about it myself (the "month," that is). We have all been preoccupied with the present struggle against a highly contagious ("human-to-human") virus. But for those little ticks (much smaller than the image in the creepy picture above), their blood-sucking life goes on as usual. And the bacteria and microbes they carry can cause big problems.

I have been on a crazy-nuts odyssey with Lyme Disease since 1988 (well, on and off, or somewhat on and somewhat off... more or less "manageable" right now). It has contributed to my "interesting" and wacky life, limited me in certain external ways, and has had low points which were just not fun at all.

Now, "in the time of Coronavirus," I have to remember that I don't have the world's best immune system. I'm used to staying-at-home and working from home and having a lot of virtual connections anyway. Strange illnesses are not new to me. But the whole world having to deal with a strange, capricious illness and its consequences? That is new to me.

Nevertheless, Lyme Disease is also still around. I have written about it plenty of times in this blog. A good overall source of information is the Global Lyme Alliance. I do not mean to increase anyone's anxiety here, but it's just good to have information on hand. Another page that is useful for navigating to a variety of resources (if you don't mind the Sk8r Girl, Rock Chick design) is my "Lyme Sister" Avril Lavigne's charitable Foundation which, among other things, helps people who are suffering from this disease which kept the famous Canadian singer-songwriter off her feet for two years.

COVID-19 is a very different thing from Lyme Disease, pathologically speaking.

Though, ironically, it may be true that many people get Lyme but never have any symptoms. But they cannot pass it on to others (unless they bite someonešŸ˜‰). Lyme a weird disease, and a serious public health problem that doesn't get the attention it deserves. But there are some options available for treating Lyme, and it appears to be the case that not many people get really sick. There has been progress since 1988.

Those of us who do get "really sick" have a perplexing range of symptoms, some of which resist all kinds of treatment, or else go into remission and then flare up periodically. Though Lyme can be a dangerous illness, it is often a long drawn out affliction, and not many deaths are statistically attributed to it. For people like me, it is a chronic infirmity. I have reached the point where I have gotten about as much help as I can get for it (and the help has been significant). People who are dealing with Lyme Disease should not get discouraged. There are many treatments and therapies, and long term remission is possible (check the links I posted above for more information and useful contacts).

The current coronavirus pandemic has made us all ponder the dangers of disease. I have lived with some of those dangers, and I can assure you I'm not looking for any more. I know I need to be especially careful, and I hope I can combine this particular responsibility with common sense and whatever manner of accessibility I can offer to others.

In any case, illness teaches you that being human is a vulnerable thing, that every day is a gift and a mystery and a possibility for love (in whatever circumstances). Still, no one likes being sick. We want healing. I salute doctors and health professionals who dedicate themselves to healing, who continue to deal with all kinds of illnesses and all kinds of people.

Here's Avril Lavigne's inspiring song, written as a cry to God, asking him to keep her Head Above Water when she felt like Lyme Disease was "drowning" her. It's an encouraging song for any time we feel overwhelmed: