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Why The Lyme Disease Challenge Is So Important This Year

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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.

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Originally published: May 25, 2017
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