Making the connection: Michelle Kwasney and Lyme Disease

Last summer, I started following Jeannine’s example when we walked the dogs through the tall grass and weeds in our field — I would spray insect repellent on my feet and legs, as well as my exposed arms and face and neck. This was specifically to — as much as possible — keep ticks from latching onto us, and possibly infecting us with Lyme disease. That’s about as far as I went in thinking about it — if asked, I would probably have said something like "Lyme disease… yeah, that’s the thing spread by ticks, right? Isn’t there a shot for that or something?"

It wasn’t until just now that I made the connection between that habit and the travails of a new friend, Michelle Kwasney. MIchelle is actually a good friend of Jeannine’s, and, like Jeannine, a writer as well (though she was originally intending to be an illustrator). I only recently met Michelle through Jeannine, and have slowly been getting to know her better.

One of the reasons it is happening slowly is that Michelle has Lyme Disease, and has suffered with it for the last couple of years. I had no idea, before I started hearing about it from her, exactly how debilitating it is… and how difficult to get rid of once one is infected. It has altered her life in almost every way. She faces chronic pain and difficulty with her memory. She walks with the aid of a cane. She no longer teaches art, doesn’t leave her house very often, and can’t drive. It has slowed her writing pace and led to a host of other difficulties. And though she sees some incremental improvements as the weeks and months pass, she doesn’t know if she’ll ever get completely better.

I am still learning about this stuff, but one thing which seems to be evident even to me at this point is that more attention needs to be given to Lyme disease — or, perhaps more to the point, to those who have it and whose lives are altered, often irretrievably, by its effects on body and mind. Physicians need to know more about it, how to diagnose it properly and promptly, and then how to treat it in the most effective way possible. And everyone needs to know more about how to try to avoid getting it in the first place.

This past week I saw a notice on Michelle’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/michelle.kwasney) about something called "Lace Up for Lyme" — a Lyme Disease Awareness Walk, an event intended to promote greater public awareness of Lyme and its devastating consequences for those afflicted with it. I asked Michelle if it was okay for me to post this information on my blog, and also if she would be okay with my talking about her and her battle with Lyme, and she gave me the go-ahead.

This page (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=216196558394122) is a petition to get the news out about Lyme Disease.

And this one (http://laceupforlyme.wefightlyme.com/) gives more information about the "Lace Up for Lyme" walk event.

I would be remiss if I did not end this post with at least one positive note — if spirit and strength of will have any salubrious effects on one’s health, then MIchelle is well-positioned to reclaim her former wellness. Although I have only known her a short time, it’s clear to me that she has a sizeable reservoir of those qualities. — PL

P.S. The graphic at the top of this post is the cover of Michelle’s most recently-published novel, "Blue Plate Special". Here are the covers to her other two novels — "Itch"…

… and "Baby Blue".

You can click on the titles or the covers to be taken to their respective pages on amazon.com, if you are interested in buying the books, or just learning more about them. — PL

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3 responses to “Making the connection: Michelle Kwasney and Lyme Disease

  1. I agree more attention should be paid to Lyme disease by the medical community. Sometimes the symptoms are not so obvious. Amy Tan suffered for years with pain and hallucinations, etc., and only with the luck of one astute physician administering the right test was she properly diagnosed. She doesn’t remember any bull’s eye rash or even any kind of insect bite.
    Ticks are a constant worry where we live — woods + deer.

  2. Lyme disease isn’t really an issue where I live, so I’ve been woefully uninformed–until now. Thanks for an enlightening, sensitive write-up. It’s through posts like this that we become more ompassionate toward others. I’m also grateful for Michelle’s brave example.
    P.S. Love the lime-colored Converse! 🙂

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