STURGIS, S.D. – It is a disease some say you can only contract in northeastern United States. Yet people in every state have lab–confirmed chronic Lyme Disease. It is the disease you get from a tick bite and it can have a devastating impact on your life.
“I’ve lost years of my life to this,” sobs Lynette Graf. “It’s like my life stopped six years ago and I’ve spent so much of the last six years bedridden, not active, not functioning.”
Graf of Sturgis says Lyme Disease stole everything. She lives in a broken down car with a space heater to keep warm. A trailer holds all her belongings.
She takes about $1000 a month in non-traditional supplements when she has the money. Graf says it is the only thing that makes her life bearable.
The bulls-eye rash is the classic sign of the insect-borne bacterial infection. Graf remembers at least two bulls-eye rashes, one as a child and one in 2011. She now walks with a cane.
Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control by state health departments, predominantly in the northeast. Fleas, biting flies and mosquitoes can also transmit the disease.
But chronic Lyme disease is not a recognized disability by the government. Medicare, Medicaid and insurance company will not pay for the supplements and non-traditional treatments.
“I know there are a lot of people suffering,” says Graf. “That’s why I’m speaking out because this is an illness that’s robbing people of their lives, their livelihoods, their basic ability to function, wiping people out financially because insurance doesn’t recognize chronic Lyme Disease and the help that we need to see the doctors that can help us.”
You can help Lynette at her GiveForward fundraising page. You can get more information from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society or the Lyme Disease United Coalition.