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!