One of many Lyme-related, broad scale commonalities in the Northern Rockies is that if and when Lyme disease is reported on, it is most often accompanied by the declaimer that Lyme is not present or not a concern in the region. It is often stated that people should be careful of other tick born illnesses, or careful of Lyme when they travel.
This commonality stems from a larger, more dangerous, and more problematic commonality: the assertion by states, provinces, and relevant agencies that Lyme disease is not present. This remains the case despite positive cases contracted in the region. Even when these cases are followed up with phone calls from health agencies, patients are consistently reporting that their cases still somehow do not make it onto the map, and their areas remain unacknowledged (view our recent post regarding the Bitterroot study for a recent exception).
“My family needs me, the world needs me. Please help if you can.”
It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, and it is not something the patients we have met or worked with do lightly or easily. For many, it takes months or years beyond the point of really needing help to finally be ready to ask for it…or, more likely, to no longer have a choice.
“Dealing with a life altering chronic pain and illness is like grieving for the death of someone close to you, except you are grieving for yourself and what you are unable to do now.”
Kate is about to embark on a very big and very far away chapter in her recovery. Hers will be an international migration for care, and across the Rockies and beyond there are a touching number of Lyme patients pulling for her, excited and hopeful for this chapter to bring her the most that it possibly can toward her recovery.
Via Flo Gardipee (friend and fellow Wildlife Biologist with Lyme):
To all my friends & family, especially fellow biologists and park rangers, that spend time in the outdoors, please take precautions against tick bites. If you find a tick attached to you, remove it and save it to send in for testing, then get to a Dr right away for treatment with antibiotics. Ticks carry awful diseases such as Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Erlichia, Rocky Mtn spotted fever, and others.
In April 2010, Angela Daenzer was doing field work as a biologist for the Flathead National Forest when she startled a moose up the Middle Fork. She ducked off into the brush to avoid the angry animal, and while the moose encounter was a bit scary, there were worse things to come.
While hiding in the brush, Daenzer picked up a tick that bit her in the scalp. After a shower hours later, she found the tick and, disgusted by it, she pulled it out of her hair and threw it in the toilet.
Daenzer is convinced that tick gave her Lyme disease, or at the very least a disease very similar to it. Within a week, she became very ill. She got the chills and a sore throat and then what she and her doctors thought was an ear infection and then severe jaw pain.
The spatial display of non-spatial or improperly represented Lyme disease data is endangering patients and misleading doctors, with life-altering, expensive, debilitating, and potentially fatal consequences. This is especially true in regions (such as the Northern Rockies) where detection effort is reduced by the very biases and presuppositions most of these maps create.
CDC Lyme Surveillance Maps do not represent where cases are contracted but are used and/or interpreted as depicting the geographic distribution of the illness. The act of placing the dots on a map implies a geographic relationship with the information being displayed….if the relationship intended is supposed to be diagnosis locations only (which these dots currently represent), this should be the title of the map, rather than a fairly minor foot note.
Our very first collective Lyme Disease Challenge goes out to Dan and Tanner and the Ride for Lyme team (aka the Adalaine project), in a location of their choosing as they cross the continent for Lyme patients and their friend!
This challenge includes the patient they ride for that day, IF the patient is well enough. If not, we’ve got that patient covered, as we’ll be doing extra ‘bites’ on behalf of that patient in their honor.
This is an inventive, unique, and inspiring Lyme Disease Challenge from the small town of Ryegate, Montana (with a population of around 300 residents), by Carole Will Bennett. Her original posts are included here, followed by a few links and facts about the challenge.
She was also willing to share a response to a comment in one of her Facebook posts that shines some light on what she and her family have been through over many years with Lyme disease.
I’m willing to bet that the photos in her first post depict the largest collective #LymeDiseaseChallenge in the state of Montana by the time it occurred and to date. If I find I’m mistaken, I will be very surprised and you will most certainly hear about it. And if you find that I’m mistaken, please let me know about it!