Angela Daenzer, Columbia Falls, MT
Northern Rockies Lyme Disease Coalition Primary Contact
(Contact via contact from at bottom of page or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Angela is a federal agency wildlife biologist and mother of two in Columbia Falls, MT. In 2010, she was bit by a tick near a tributary of the Middle Fork Flathead River while doing fieldwork. Despite the bite, typical acute-phase-Lyme flu-like symptoms, a rash on her scalp and Bell’s palsy (a temporary partial facial paralysis highly indicative of Lyme disease), she was told—as are most patients in Rocky Mountain States and provinces—that her symptoms could not be Lyme disease because “Montana lacks deer ticks” and she had not recently traveled. She was not aware at the time that additional species of ticks transmit Lyme, that numerous other patients were also contracting Lyme in her state, or that current surveys for deer ticks had not been conducted. For three years, she was misdiagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and myriad other illnesses and conditions, but continuously told it could not be Lyme disease.
When she was able to travel out of state to see a Lyme Literate physician and undergo more accurate testing, she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease and began treatment. She was able to continue working through treatment and was regaining her health until she experienced a relapse of symptoms Spring 2014, from which she is still recovering. She has since been forced to step away from her career.
The last five years have been difficult for Angela and her family. When she was still well enough to work, she dedicated most of her free time to recovering her health; during her sickest periods, she’s spent months at a time in bed. Prior to Lyme disease, she was a Girl Scout leader and very active outdoors. She, her husband and their kids enjoyed hiking, camping and cross country skiing. Her kids additionally liked helping her with public events at work; they especially loved projects involving bats, bears and frogs and were getting very good at helping with presentations and questions. They miss their energetic mother, their outings and these events. Their firefighter father picks up the slack, often having to be both Mom and Dad, but it isn’t easy for any of them. Many families affected by Lyme disease share similar experiences, particularly when diagnosis and treatment are delayed, which greatly increases the likelihood of neurological and central nervous system damage. Angela and her family want others to be aware that Lyme is in all 50 states except Hawaii and on all continents except Antarctica. Angela’s kids have made Lyme Disease Challenge videos and have helped Angela start a new organization, Northern Rockies Lyme Disease Coalition, to help make Lyme disease visible in their region. She also writes a blog called Invisibly Lyme Montana.