Tuesday, May 31, 2011
A Thank You to Governor Gregoire:
Well, it happened just like that, May has come to a close. It's hard to believe how fast the months click by, especially May, with Lyme-Awareness being our focus. It's still so hard to reach the front-line doctors in our rural communities, and politicians on any level. That has not stopped the Lyme community from working our corners and wearing the Lyme-green. This year, a march of that same Lyme-green outside the White House got President Obama's attention enough to send someone out. As a senator, he had sent an aide to NatCapLyme's screening of "Under Our Skin" so I know our efforts are paying-off to reach as far as we can with our very real message. This year there have been walk-a-thons, even virtual walk-a-thons for Lyme, in many different states.
I have big plans to try and organize a "Swim-a-thon" for next May, at our Easter Seals Camp on the Key, Camp Stand-By-Me, so stay tuned for news along the way. For this year, I was a one-woman Lyme-Awareness show in Purdy for two afternoons, standing with my sign, "Lyme Lives Here," giving the passing cars my warmest smile and big happy waves. On the bottom of the sign I wrote www.knowlyme.com for those who wanted a comprehensive look at both the disease and politics. I was pleased to see hundreds of conversations start in cars that were turning onto our Key Peninsula. One truckload of young people pulled into the parking lot behind me, so that one could come and ask what Lyme is! It's moments like that which give me hope.
Do you know, a surgeon I had to go and see at the beginning of this year actually told me she moved to Washington with her husband and children because she truly believed we did not have ticks out here! She promised her children that was true, after having to pick dozens of ticks off them in Missouri. This is an educated medical doctor...thankfully one who willingly sat and listened to the education I had to give her. I wish I could reach the main clinic and doctor on this peninsula, who still refuses to entertain the idea that Lyme and other co-infections may be the root of some of his patients' problems. He was sure my daughter didn't have Lyme either, when she was in the very treatable first and second stages. I don't want to blame him...but I sure as hell want to educate him, as he continues to deny Lyme as a possibility. Denying a patient's very real symptoms because lab tests aren't good enough and show false negatives, denying a patient's very real symptoms because GP's have not educated themselves in clinical diagnoses, amounts to abuse of their patients.
Poster by Dale Goodvin
Let me ask beautiful breast cancer survivors, what if the doctor told you they didn't know why you had that lump, and why don't we wait and see what happens...here, have some painkillers and anti-depressants and stop whining? What if your doc said, come back in six months, and six months after that? Yes, once upon a time my sisters were thrown away because breast cancer was mostly a woman's disease and who cared, but they fought back with those rose-blush ribbons...until there was a river of pink, funding awareness and research. We plan on doing the same with this Lyme-green ribbon, for our loved ones. Lyme imitates over 300 other diseases, including ALS, Parkinson's, and the biggie for Washington State...MS.
So let me end our Lyme-Awareness month with some good news. After four years of trying, we now have an official proclamation declaring May Lyme-Awareness Month in Washington! It was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire on May 13th, and arrived in the mail May 26th. It was championed by my husband Matthew, and the governor's executive assistant, Kym Ryan. The fast-growing Lyme community in Washington state would like to humbly thank Gov. Gregoire and Kym Ryan very much for this initial step in acknowledging the disease. Obviously I would like the opportunity to sit down with our Governor, to educate her more about tick-borne infections caught right here in this state, introduce her to many patients who can tell her just that, and the cost of Lyme in Washington. You can see, the "whereas" points that talk about Lyme "being rare in Washington and most cases being caught out of state." Well, we know better than that...and until this problem is addressed, this state will see more and more of its citizens sick and on Disability. From an economic standpoint alone, it would behoove us to step up Lyme education in Washington, especially for our doctors. Even the CDC, which sticks to the conservative, admits Lyme is being under-reported by 13-15 times the numbers they list. The conservative numbers have increased by 44 times the number of reported cases eight years ago...and if a few hundred should actually be fifteen times that number?
Summer is about to break out some blue with June, so let's get out there and enjoy this wild beauty, knowledgeably. Say it with me now...wear light clothing...tuck pants in socks...wear a hat...carry a tick tool in your first-aid kit, and learn how to properly remove ticks...check yourself and each other, especially in hair, behind ears...and put those clothes in the dryer for twenty minutes.
Be safe out there. Cheers!