Why The Lyme Disease Challenge Is So Important This Year


This month (May) is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. May 2017 is also the month when the leaders of our government are attempting to pass the American Health Care Act, an act that could potentially end up costing many Americans thousands upon thousands of more dollars a year. Supposedly, this act “does not eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions”; however, there is nothing in this act that prohibits insurance companies from charging exorbitant amounts for individuals with pre-existing conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about half of all non-elderly Americans have one or more pre-existing conditions.

I am one of these Americans. My friends are these Americans. My family members are these Americans.

Researchers estimate that 300,000 Americans – per year – report being diagnosed with Lyme disease, one of these pre-existing conditions that is not protected under the AHCA. While the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILDAS) and other organizations are fighting for Lyme disease to even be recognized and for advancements in the care and treatment of Lyme and other diseases, the American government may make it harder for those with Lyme to afford health insurance.

The purpose of the Lyme Disease Challenge (take a photo or video of yourself biting into a lime and share on social media along with a fact about Lyme disease) is to raise awareness and funding for improved Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment. I believe now, more than ever, it is important for other people – especially the leaders in our government – to recognize and understand how devastating Lyme disease and other chronic illness are. Lyme disease is not something people choose to have. It is not preventable. It is not easily treatable. It is often irreversible. Even after treatment, many patients continue to suffer from debilitating symptoms.

I don’t know our leaders personally, but I do know how their actions – if they succeed – will affect me. From what I can tell, they aren’t helping many of the people they are in office to serve, and I am not OK with that.

The Lyme Disease Challenge may seem trivial to some people. Perhaps, at the end of the day, it won’t have a huge impact. But maybe it can. Maybe this one challenge – and others like it – can bring unity, support, and community to those with chronic illnesses (known to the government and insurance companies as merely pre-existing conditions not worth their protection and money). Maybe it will put faces to the diseases and names to the suffering.

woman and man biting into limes

Maybe, just maybe, the Lyme Disease Challenge this month will stir up more challenges for more awareness. And maybe, just maybe, this awareness will reach the eyes and ears of those in Washington D.C. making decisions that will impact millions of Americans – their Americans. And maybe, just maybe, something as small as biting into a lime can begin to kindle the change America and her health care system needs.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Lyme Disease

finger with several tiny ticks on it

How to Prevent Tick Bites and Infection

I hope by now you’ve read and reread all the traditional suggestions for prevention of and treatment for tick bites. As I am continually bombarded with messages from moms seeking advice, generally for tick bites on their children, I often feel helpless to this epidemic. It’s like I can see a horrific car accident about [...]
lonely man looking at fiery sunset sky with digital art style, illustration painting

Surviving the Hidden Pain of Lyme Disease

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. I’ve never written these words before. I’ve spoken them out loud to family, wrapped them up in fiction for my book, alluded to [...]
portrait of a woman with drawn flowers around her head

23 Ways to Imagine What It's Like to Have Lyme Disease

Dealing with Lyme disease can be challenging enough based on the complex symptoms alone. What makes it 10 times more challenging, though, is the fact that (for most with Lyme disease) our symptoms are invisible. We try to describe what we’re going through, but the words get lost in translation as the hearer sees us as normal, healthy individuals. How can [...]
woman receiving an infusion in the doctor's office

The Less-Than-Pleasant Truth About My Life With Lyme Disease

I’m so tired of fighting. Fighting to do more than I’m able to do, fighting to get up in the morning, fighting for my life within my own body. I’ve been sick for over two years. When I really look at it, I’ve only ever really had one good year of health. Before that I [...]