NEW GLASGOW — Linda MacKay is more like herself again, but it has been a struggle.
MacKay is recovering from the depths of ill health due to what has been confirmed as Lyme disease. The treatment has brought her back from her worse moments of the infectious disease last year.
She was among more than 80 people who attended a series of presentations on ticks, including those infectious bacteria associated with Lyme disease, on May 5 in Halifax.
MacKay can remember bites from ticks that later resulted in her contracting Lyme disease. Her health deteriorated in 2014 and entered a steep decline in 2016.
“Each tick bite piled up until I went off a cliff,” she said. “It got worse when I couldn’t get out of bed.”
A blood test in May 2017 confirmed she had Lyme disease.
“I always thought it ironic I finally got confirmation of it during Lyme Awareness month,” she said. Alternative medicine options have restored her health. She’s back working after nearly 10 months when she could not work.
“My brain is not as foggy,” she said. “I had excruciating pain on my left side and excruciating headaches. It was actually hard to smile. I couldn’t do anything. I’m a caregiver to my parents and that was very frustrating.”
The event included presentations by Dr. Vett Lloyd, a researcher and biology professor at Mount Allison University, Andrew Hebda from the Nova Scotia Museum and author and journalist Mary Beth Pheiffer.
Pheiffer, who is from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said her research and interviewing for the book she wrote about Lyme disease provided an alarming storyline.
“There were all the elements of a story that needed to be exposed,” she said. “I definitely stepped out of mainstream journalism to write this. I found a lot of people who got sick and didn’t get well. There are many people who don’t fit the model for Lyme disease in the U.S. The model is flawed … it is based on flawed science that’s been wrong and has been fiercely defended.”
She said the spread of vector-bearing ticks confirms climate change, although Lyme disease has existed for centuries.
“Lyme is the first epidemic of climate change,” she said. “It’s a product of suburbs and cut-up forests.”
Lloyd updated the audience on the status of Lyme disease research in Canada. She said the decision has not been made on where federal funding for Lyme research will be directed.
She also outlined progress made in New Brunswick, whose education department has endorsed a Lyme disease curriculum.
Lloyd, who has also suffered from Lyme disease, outlined next steps that include preventing others from becoming ill and communicate with others, including elected officials.
“The time for tokenism is over,” she said. “If Lyme continues to be a silent illness, we will continue to be ignored.”
From left: author and journalist Mary Beth Pheiffer autographs one of her books for Linda MacKay. (Goodwin photo)