I have just returned from a trip to Australia, both visiting family and consulting with Lyme patients. There are some really sick people Down Under, and very few doctors who are aware enough, knowledgeable enough, and/ or willing enough, to help.
A major part of the problem is that the Australian authorities have, at least up until this point, denied that Lyme disease exists in Australia. Yet last year a gentleman by the name of Karl McManus passed away and the spirochetes responsible for Lyme disease were found in many of his organs on autopsy. He was riddled with it. And he was infected in Sydney while on a TV shoot in the bush. I saw Karl just a few days before his passing last year, and was shocked to see the way this illness had ravaged his body.
As much as a human life is not an appropriate or justifiable sacrifice, his case at least attracted media attention to the issue, and I was told last week that the public policy stance on the presence of Lyme disease in Australia might be shifting.
Lyme disease is an international issue – it is rapidly spreading and is disguised as many other illnesses – chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease and ALS to name a few. The extent to which it impacts lives, and the inherent challenges in treating it, make it a tough adversary. Its political incorrectness just adds to the problem. It scares me sometimes to think of where this is all heading – so many sick people, so much resistance – by doctors, insurance companies, infectious disease specialists and government agencies alike. What is the turning point … the tipping point?
There are some phenomenal doctors both in the United States and around the world who are committed to making a difference in the lives of Lyme disease sufferers. I applaud them all. It’s not an easy road working in this field – there is rejection by other medical professionals, there is a patient population that is complex and challenging, there is a certain amount of criticism from our own patients because no matter what we try to do, in some ways it’s never enough. And yet these docs soldier on and for that I really take my hat off to them.
For me, my motivation in working with Lyme disease is to be able to provide something that patients often don’t find anywhere else – someone who listens and who cares. And of course, being that I grew up in Sydney, Australia is very close to my heart – it’s a real honor (pardon me, I mean honour) for me to go there and see Lyme patients and try to share the knowledge that I have accumulated through my studies and work in the United States over the past few years. If I can play a role in bridging those two worlds then I will feel fulfilled and know that I am living in the true calling that God has on my life.
On a personal note, this past week was a beautiful time for me with my two nieces and nephew, my sister who is my best friend, and of course, my Mum who supports me in everything I do. I am writing this from the QANTAS A380, with my new puppy being transported in the hold below – I am anxiously awaiting his safe and non-traumatized arrival in Los Angeles!! I am already looking forward to my next trip in October/ November, hopefully both to Noosa and Sydney this time.