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Why Jimmy Kimmel's Lyme Disease Jokes Really 'Ticked' Me Off

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Jimmy Kimmel took it upon himself to help spread the word that New York state officials are warning that Christmas trees may have ticks in them that can spread Lyme disease. He did so by introducing a new holiday character named “Dick the Tick” in this video:

In the clip he jokes that Santa’s bringing Lyme disease to all the kids this year and then goes on to compare the ticks to bloodsucking Christmas ornaments. He then ends with “MERRY TICKMAS.”

Jimmy Kimmel is in a position where he could raise awareness about Lyme but instead chooses to make fun of a cruel and awful disease. Why does society find it acceptable to joke about these things and chronic illness in general? I’m curious if he would make fun of something similar like cancer? Perhaps he’s unaware of how serious Lyme and tick-borne illnesses are. A lot of people think Lyme is simply treated with a couple weeks of antibiotics and then you’re fine. Lyme disease caught early and treated correctly can usually be resolved in several months without problems. What people don’t realize is that misdiagnosed and untreated cases turn into a late-stage, chronic form of the disease.

Jimmy, if you’re reading this, let me inform you what a real “Tickmas” is like. I know from personal experience because after two years of being a medical mystery, misdiagnosis, seeing 14 doctors and having more than 100 blood tests, x-rays, brain MRIs, VNG testing and a liver biopsy, I finally found a Lyme-literate doctor who properly diagnosed me this past July. This Christmas will be by first “Tickmas.” It’s no way to spend a holiday, and I think a lot of other people with Lyme can relate.

1. I can’t buy presents for family and friends

I cannot afford Christmas, or as you call it “Tickmas,” presents this year for my loved ones because Lyme disease is what they call the “rich man’s disease.” Insurance companies don’t recognize or cover chronic Lyme disease. My health insurance only covers about 10 percent of my costs.

2. I can’t eat Christmas cookies or treats.

Lymies are suppose to stay away from sugar because it feeds the spirochetes and suppresses the immune system. This year I’m trading cookies for more than 20 daily supplements, pills and herbs. Some of my fellow warriors are trading cookies for PICC lines.


3. I can barely put up or decorate a Christmas tree.

What used to be a one-day process to decorate the house took a whole week. For some, decorating will be skipped all together. You see, the fatigue from Lyme is so overwhelming that sometimes I can’t get off the couch or out of bed. Occasionally I have a good day and overexert myself and then end up being down the next few days. I don’t leave the house most weekends because I have to rest and prepare myself for the work week ahead.

4. I can’t travel home for Christmas.

My family lives 1,272 miles away, and I haven’t seen them in 15 months because I’m too sick to travel and I cannot afford it with the overwhelming amount of medical bills. Others like me are in the same scenario, or even worse; their families don’t believe they have Lyme and they’re left to suffer alone.

5. I can help the less fortunate.

The one thing Lyme has not stopped me from doing is helping others. If anything, Lyme has made me more humble and passionate for the care of others and has made me slow down and really count my blessings. The one thing that bums me out, however, is that I can no longer be an organ and tissue donor and I’m not allowed to donate blood.

So Jimmy, please do not wish me a “Merry Tickmas.” There’s no cure for Lyme disease. Lyme has taken so much away from me, and while my life is slowly coming back with treatment, I would not wish this on anyone. I do not know what the future holds for my health, but I do know that for awhile I wasn’t sure if I would be around to see this Christmas. Lyme is a terrible and isolating disease and it’s not something to be taken lightly.

For more information about increasing public awareness of the devastation Lyme causes to the lives of people worldwide, please visit:

Originally published: December 13, 2015
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