Lyme disease is a growing concern nationwide and is exploding in New England thanks to the mild winter. A pair of local authors uniquely qualified to talk about the issue are joining forces to present a free discussion on Lyme disease at Gibson's Bookstore on June 23 at 11 a.m.
Katina Makris, author of Out of the Woods; Healing Lyme Disease, Body, Mind & Spirit, and Laura Piazza, co-author of Recipes for Repair: A Lyme Disease Cookbook, are both chronic Lyme patients who have suffered through the frustrations of continued misdiagnosis and the resulting personal struggles.
After years of failing to find the proper diagnosis, Makris - long-time natural health care practitioner - wound up bedridden, too weak to perform daily tasks, and eventually lost her job, marriage and financial stability due to the battle. She eventually found the proper care and has enjoyed a full recovery.
Piazza, too, struggled to receive the proper care, even after an initial Lyme diagnosis, and battled through more than 14 years before discovering the help she needed. Unlike Makris, though, Piazza's road to recovery continues.
The authors spent some time with the Insider in preparation for their upcoming appearance.
Because Lyme disease is often viewed as a New England-centric issue, do you hope to increase awareness of the disease beyond New England between the book and the presentations?
Katina Makris: Most definitely. I've already been to the West Coast with it, to California and Seattle, and I've got an article in a national organic farming magazine that goes nationwide. Also, my publicist with the book is trying to get it (mentioned) in as many highly visible publications as she can, nationwide, things like Huffington Post, etc., because Lyme disease as an epidemic may be most dense here in the New England area, but it's radiated out and leaked as far as the West Coast, and also to Texas and Florida because of migratory birds. It's in 89 countries in the world.
Laura Piazza: People tend to think it's only in New England, but it's in all states and all over the world. There is certainly a focus on it here, but there should probably be a focus on it anywhere, because it doesn't discriminate between state lines.
What was it like to have experienced Lyme disease? How does that experience influence the way you talk to/educate the public?
Makris: First of all, I have to say, I had a very severe case of Lyme disease that went undetected for five years, got into my nervous system and my brain. I was bedridden, and I suffered a huge amount of loss in my life - my career, my home, my income. It was really a full-life catastrophe. But I am fortunate, I am one of maybe 10 or 15 percent that's fully recovered from the chronic version of it.
When I'm speaking with people, it's very much about helping give them direction to get proper diagnosis, but also helping them find practitioners who can get them the help besides just killing off the infection. Some people have said to me that I am really in a very unique position as an author, because I'm a survivor, a patient, and a health practitioners, so I've got multiple lenses to look at this illness from and kind of give it a unique voice.
Piazza: I was misdiagnosed for 14 years and just got a proper diagnosis 3½ years ago. So it influences me because of my misdiagnosis. Looking back on it, I had all the telltale signs - I had the bullseye rash, I had a tick bite, I had the onset of symptoms - and it was really mismanaged by the medical professionals I had gone to. Knowing how my case was mismanaged and how easily that can happen and seeing how it can happen to other people, I like to pass along my story to help prevent it from happening to other people. (next page »)