TOUCHED BY LYME: Another fallen Lyme warrior
RIP, Jeremiah Katches, from Colfax, CA, who died after a long battle with Lyme disease.
I met Jeremiah Katches several years ago, at a showing of the Lyme documentary UNDER OUR SKIN. He was a sweet faced young man in a wheelchair. I was tending a Lyme disease information table in the back of the theater. Because my daughter had spent more than three years in a wheelchair due to Lyme disease, I felt a special affinity for him. We talked about treatment options.
I was sporadically aware of Jeremiah in the following years. Sometimes he participated in the CaliforniaLyme on-line support group. In 2011, he and his young family attended the Sacramento Lymewalk, which is where the accompanying photo was taken. Last summer, he was featured on the Inanna House website as the “Artist of the Month.” The website has his Lyme story in his own words and showcases many beautiful photographs he’s taken.
His story encompasses themes that are all too common for Lyme patients: He was bitten by ticks during military training. He developed a bull’s-eye rash. His rash and accompanying symptoms were dismissed by his doctors, and then he was dismissed from the military because he was too sick to carry on. He didn’t test positive on the standard Lyme tests because the tests are lousy. As he wrote on the Inanna website:
Eventually, a friend of mine who suffers from Lyme informed me how useless the normal blood test for Lyme disease actually is and said I should get tested through a different lab, one that offered a more accurate test. The test finally came back positive, and so for the last six years of my life I have been fighting Lyme.
Because of a medical establishment that follows the Lyme treatment guidelines of Infectious Diseases Society of America, this young man—and countless other people—could not get diagnosed early after infection, when treatment would be most effective. And because the IDSA pretends that chronic Lyme disease doesn’t exist, and insurance companies are happy to go along with that fiction (why pay for treatment when there’s “nothing wrong”?) he couldn’t get properly tested or treated without paying out of pocket. He further wrote on the Inanna website:
Unfortunately, due to the cost of treatment and the unwillingness of Insurance Companies to help cover it, I haven’t always been able to do everything my Doctor has wanted me to in order to get better. But, I do what I can.
Only last month, Jeremiah created a “GoFundMe” page, which asks friends and family to donate to a patient’s medical care. As recently as 10 days ago, he posted this update:
I know that so many people are struggling financially right now. But I really really need all the help I can get for my treatment. So if anyone can donate anything to help me keep getting treated for my Lyme disease it would help me out more then you’ll ever know.
Yesterday afternoon, I received a message that Jeremiah Katches passed away Friday night. Word spread quickly through the on-line Lyme community. Even those without a personal connection to Jeremiah are stricken at the news. The Lyme community has lost another one of its own.
Jeremiah, we weep for you and your family and the whole rotten state of affairs that has brought us to this point. We vow to keep fighting in your memory.
A memorial service for Jeremiah (Jimmy) Katches will be at 1 pm, Saturday, March 2, at Foothill Christian Fellowship, 1100 Sugar Pine Road, Meadow Vista, CA
Donations to a fund for his family’s expenses can be mailed to:
Jeremiah James Katches Family Memorial, C/O US Bank, PO Box 1093, Colfax CA 95713. (Donations can also made at any US Bank branch.)
The Auburn Lyme support group is compiling a “Remembrance Book” for the family. You may email a poem or other message to: firstname.lastname@example.org Please send as soon as possible, since the book will be presented on March 2.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. Contact her at email@example.com.