I met Kathryn Ely on one of her good days. The progression of her illness had left her with little appetite. But as she perused the menu of this Castro Valley, California coffee shop she smiled.
“I think I’ll have bacon,” Kat said. “I might regret it later. But right now I don’t care.”
You really can make friends on Facebook. Over the past several months Kat and I had become acquainted online. Mutual interests in backpacking and philanthropy brought us together and a joy trip out west gave us the opportunity to meet in real life.
I’d known Kat was sick for a while. But as we sat talking over breakfast it became painfully clear to me how easy it is to take your health for granted and how quickly it can be taken away. Not so long ago Kat was an active, vibrant woman with her whole life ahead of her. But with a single bite of a tick her entire world was turned upside down. Kat has Lyme disease.
“My brain gets really fuzzy sometimes. And I’m in a lot of pain,” she told me as our meals arrived. “My hands are shaky and I’m tired all the time. After this I’m pretty much done for the day.”
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Kat’s symptoms make it impossible for her to hold down a job. Struggling against Lyme disease now for two years her health insurance is all but exhausted. The medical community is in disagreement on how best to treat this debilitating illness and some doctors even deny its existence. Kat also suffers bouts of depression and sometimes contemplates suicide.
It’s horrible condition to be sure. But what’s most disturbing is how anyone who leads an active lifestyle and spends time outdoors is vulnerable to contracting Lyme disease. All it takes is one tick bite.
Now Kat has her good days, most are pretty bad. If you’re as thankful as I am for your health and having been spared the misfortune of a prolonged illness I hope you’ll watch this short film by Dominic Gill. You may also consider making a small donation in any amount to help cover Kat’s medical expenses and see her through to a full recovery.
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