TOUCHED BY LYME: Beauty and pain intertwined
ATTACK—A STORY OF LYME DISEASE is a most unusual group of photographs on display in the central California coastal town of Arroyo Grande. The pictures are the work of Cal Poly student photographer Brianna Nosler, who did them as her senior project. Because Brianna is majoring in Art Design, the images have almost a high fashion quality to them. Yet the story they tell is devastating, gritty, and real.
One of the most visually intriguing photos shows 17-year-old Jenna Franklin seemingly nude, in a bathtub full of pill bottles. Her lips are covered by medical tape—perhaps suggesting that she’s being silenced by the medical establishment? The image is striking, elegant, and disturbing.
The text accompanying her photos explains that Jenna was bitten by a tick at age 7, and subsequently manifested serious pain and disability that went unidentified for many years. Eventually, she was diagnosed with chronic Lyme and related problems. Despite visiting countless doctors and undergoing a wide variety of treatments, Jenna remains in constant pain, often bedridden or in a wheelchair.
Brianna’s show features photos and biographical information for six San Luis Obispo County residents with Lyme and other tick-borne infections. The details vary from person to person, but commonalities run deep. All are gravely ill and suffering mightily, though they may look perfectly normal from the outside. All had difficulties in getting properly diagnosed, visiting doctor after doctor as their health deteriorated. All continue to be profoundly impacted by this terrible disease.
Before she got involved in this project, the 22-year-old Nosler didn’t know anything about Lyme disease or the strange politics that make it difficult for people like these six to get properly diagnosed and treated. Now, she’d like to share her photos and her new-found knowledge to help raise public awareness about Lyme disease.
Her photos are on display in the back of the Chameleon Home at 415 E. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande through June 20. In the fall, there will be another display on the Cal Poly campus in San Luis Obispo.
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