TOUCHED BY LYME: Shining a light for Lyme at Maine’s Union Fair
The Union Fair is a large agricultural fair that has taken place every year in Maine since 1869. It’s famous for the Maine Wild Blueberry Festival. Now, perhaps it’s becoming famous for something else.
For the third year in a row, Paula Jackson Jones and Angele Rice of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education have set up shop at the fair. Their mission is to educate the public about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases—how to protect yourself from ticks and what to do if you end up getting infected anyway.
Paula summarized how the 2017 fair went for them:
We spent eight days straight at our booth, raising awareness about tick-borne diseases here in Maine and dispelling myths ~ oh the myths ~ with facts, science and truth.
Tick-borne diseases have evolved and we need to make sure that we are evolving our way of thinking as well.
The Maine CDC shared on their FB page that we were at the fair all week and supported our prevention efforts.
Prevention is key to staying tick free! Product was flying off the shelves as we educated people on ‘How Not to Have a Tick Encounter,’ but still enjoy life outdoors in Maine as they always have.
Resources were shared. People approached us questioning if they’ve been exposed to a tick-borne disease and those who had were questioning if they were still sick even after being treated.
We were surprised to hear just how many different protocols medical providers are using even here in the mid-coast region. We heard a lot about the 1-2 pill treatment and some even shared that they were properly treated with 30 or more days. But what really surprised us was ~ after all the awareness that has been shared and information that has been sent to their offices ~ some providers still choose to just pick a number out of their head. (2 days? 10 days? 30 days of antibiotics?) So, who you see and how much knowledge they have about tick-borne disease really does determine the outcome of your recovery.
We spoke with several medical providers, including an infectious disease doctor and an entomologist from out of state.
There were a lot of hugs, tears and thank you’s, as we helped people get connected to providers who could help them and resources that could alleviate their struggles, such as financial assistance.
Many people who had visited us last year come back around this year to say Hi and show us just how well they were doing and to thank us for the support that we’ve offered them.
We had a couple dozen requests for speaking engagements to follow up on and schedule.
Our donation jar was filled every day and we were thanked repeatedly for our community services ~ even from the out of state visitors! We helped connect visitors with their local state advocacy groups.
We never get tired of our public events, because it’s an opportunity to share what we know with those who are looking for direction and for validation with their own struggles.
You never know how sharing your own story will impact and make a difference in their life. It’s planting seeds and giving them something to think about in a way they never thought about. Even those in the booths around us who could overhear what we were saying, commented all week long on what they were hearing.
Even one light in the darkness makes a difference. So, where ever you go, no matter how big or how small the crowd, always shine your light because you never know when your light is going to make a difference in somebody else’s life.
The Maine CDC (the state health department) shared the following on its Facebook page:
Kudos to Paula and Angele, for the terrific work they are doing in Maine.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .