May is Lyme disease awareness month, and thousands across Pennsylvania are affected by the disease. If left undiagnosed it can create serious health problems for people which is both painful and expensive.
Melissa Hilton has chronic Lyme disease.
“I think people need to be aware of the fact of that it can make you so sick,” she says.
Andrew Geibel also has chronic Lyme disease
“I take several antibiotics throughout the day,” he says. “In the middle of the night I take different medicines. Uhh, breakfast, bedtime. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.”
According to the latest CDC statistics, in 2010 Pennsylvania had the second highest confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States.
Some days when I'm sick I can function and be okay, and fake it and pretend that I'm okay. And then there's other days where, I'm not faking it. I can't physically get out of bed. I have to call my parents to come take care of my kids, and do my every day duties because I'm not capable of doing it,” Melissa says.
“I used to go out rock climbing and run and do all kind of physical activities, like, 6 days a week. I had to quit doing them. I can still do them, but it’s not even worth it to me. I'll be laid up in pain, and not be able to sleep the whole night,” says Andrew.
“I was diagnosed in 2008, umm, but at that time I was so ill they didn't know what was wrong with me. It took them quite a while to figure it out. But they think I was misdiagnosed for about seven years prior,” says Melissa.
Lyme disease is often difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic those of many other diseases.
“Basically they told me I had an abnormal muscle tone in my neck and they didn't know where it came from,” says Andrew who takes several types of medication daily. Many medications and treatments are not covered by insurance companies, making Lyme disease not only very painful but very expensive for patients as well.
“Nothing related to Lyme disease is covered,” says Melissa.
I average at least $800 a month,” Andrew says. “My goal is to just keep functioning, so it’s worth it to me. If I have pain the rest of my life, that’s fine. It just wanna be able to live an active life.”