Carolina On My Mind

Four whirlwind days in one of my favorite states- North Carolina! I’m partial to this land of windswept beaches, blue tinged mountains, and stretching midlands. Most likely this ties in to my years living here, while at Duke University. But, the soft springtime air and gracious hospitality of North Carolineans cannot be dismissed. There is an easy comfort to this pretty region, and some mighty fine food to be savored!

Durham has blossomed. From the old smoky tobacco town I knew in the 1970’s, with its narrow downtown streets scented by a sweet aroma in the gentle mornings, the former, decaying infrastructure has been revamped to a vital commercial district. The college students must love it- great restaurants and clubs, darling shops and tree-lined, freshened streets everywhere.

The relic wooden slat Durham Bulls AA baseball stadium I used to watch minor league games at with my college boyfriend was funky; squeaking bench seats and old-timers spitting chew liberally. It was a colorful slice of small town pro-ball. We liked it. Now, Durham Bulls boast a gleaming, snazzy stadium, rivaling a major-league park in its glamour and comfort. What a skyward leap!

Duke, as you can imagine, has grown astronomically. Tons of new science buildings, hospital expansion, air-conditioned dormitories sprouted amid the old woodlands. I understand the need for progress as a cutting-edge campus and my heart shrank a tad, wistful for the former tie-dyed, frisbee days on the quad. The iPod force of sleek students trailing to classes is less congenial. My alma mater, however, still glowed benevolently in the fine Carolina springtime. Cherry blooms and daffodils dancing were bits of color to my New Englander’s snow-trained eye. What a delicious taste of beauty!

Though treasuring some reunion time with old friends, I came to North Carolina to work, and what long hours I expended! This state is severely infested with ticks, the primary Lyme disease carrier. Over a dozen people told me they pull at least 20 ticks off their bodies each summer, and a dozen a day from pets! Mild winters, lots of low-growing vegetation, and being in an obvious migratory bird fly-way brews a prime Lyme disease habitat. The very sorry situation is the North Carolina doctors and residents are extremely uneducated about this surging epidemic illness.

The North Carolina Lyme Disease Foundation brought me in to help amend the denial, offer solace to the stricken and promote Lyme dialogue. Special thanks go to John Dorney, President, Jan House, Treasurer, and the busy efforts of Frances Kuhlbars and Emily Amber for your excellent support and PR assistance. Dr. Jason Chow of Chapel Hill, and Mary Marchbanks at Carolina Hyperbarics, your generous alliance made dual locations possible for my venues.

As I am all too familiar with, now 40 “Lyme Talks” later, the stricken and caregivers limped in. The weakness, palsies, ashen color are palpable touchstones to my former Lyme-addled life, too. Yet, I gave two inspired, informative presentations, one in Raleigh, the other in Chapel Hill, while fielding massive Q&A’s. So much help is needed, with less than a handful of Lyme-literate doctors in the state. But the work has begun! As the first person to come in from out-of-state to offer support, I am honored to be a lamplight of hope and urge you on to keep Lyme disease awareness work in motion. Inroads can be made.

Dr. Jason Chow is asking all NC residents with Lyme disease to write up a clear, one page story of their Lyme illness and email it to lymeletters@ gmail. com, by April 15th. He aims to present 1,000 Lyme cases to the state Health Department, establishing that Lyme disease does exist throughout North Carolina and it needs recognition! Please participate if you are a resident. This very same measure needs to be modeled in all US states, helping us define the epidemic.

My speaking engagements were long and rather energetically demanding on me, but very worth it, as I know how crucial hope and resource is for those struggling. Having walked the “Lyme Road” for ten arduous years, I intimately fathom the importance a hand-hold of comfort provides.

Thank you one and all for coming out to meet me. I hope “Out of the Woods” finds a special place in your heart. And, lovely North Carolina, you still charm a Yankee girl like me with your blissful springtime grace!

 

-Katina

7 thoughts on “Carolina On My Mind

  1. I have lived in two states since I was infected in North Carolina, where everyone told me it’s “just a chigger bite” and I never put two and two together. I never even showed a doctor my insane and enormous fast growing rash. I mean, hey who’s going to get all worked up over a little “Chigger bite”, right? Certainly not me. I did bring all my symptoms to my Dr though (well, most of them). From Vertigo to constant fever. No one ever asked me about a bite. Oh well… since then I’ve learned when to get worked up and when to settle down (sometimes). I am so glad you went to NC Katina. They so need the help, the validation, and the doctors and legislators really need the education.

    1. That chigger story is awful and I can imagine it all unfolding as such. WHO KNEW back then that Lyme disease was all up and down the East coast and so many got afflicted unaware. I met a NC mom whose first baby was a stillborn in early 1980’s and of her 4 alive children, 3 have severe learning disabilities, anxiety, social issues. She likely is a carrier and no one has ever put it all together until now.

      I appreciate your support in my work Donna. Cheers to your full recovery.
      K

  2. Thank you, Katina, for coming to NC. We needed you and as you so eloquently described we need more awareness and help from the medical community. This is just the beginning. Frances

    1. It was my honor to come to beautiful North Carolina Frances. Thank you for hosting me in my mission to spread Lyme awareness and end the suffering. Katina

  3. May I ask how did you get healed?
    I am now on my second course of doxycycline and plaquenil! Just when I thought I was getting better- the old pain returns, tingling burning pain -especially in my hands . And I am an artist, painter -oils. So hard to not be able to use my hands. I’ve been on this journey for almost 7 years!
    My husband is supportive, but I don’t have many understanding friends-even though I belong to a church.
    Any advice would be welcome!
    Sincerely, MG

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