I'm a Hawaii-born Nebraskan, that moved to Arkansas after attending college for Creative Writing in Tampa, Florida. I quickly fell in love with the NWA area, the gorgeous nature trails, the foodie niche' and the diverse people that hail from all over the States. Growing up in a medical family, I had a passion for helping people and was inspired to take up a career as a Therapeutic Massage Therapist in 2001 and start my own business helping the body heal itself. It was here that I met my Massage Instructor and dear friend, and got to know her and her husband's struggle with Lyme disease. Throughout the years, I have had the honor to meet and work on many clients and friends that have been affected by the consequences of tick-borne illness, including Lyme.
In May of 2016, our 3 daughters went with their Girl Scout friends to their troop leader's home in Lowell, Ar for an overnight tent campout in her front yard. In less than 27 hours, they had over 2 dozen tick bites, even after spraying down with DEET. The next morning they woke up feverish, fatigued and had various rashes and we took them to a walk-in clinic who clinically said they were being treated for early stage Lyme disease. Over the next couple of weeks, their symptoms increased and we took them into our local Pediatric Clinic to request testing for multiple tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme. Two of the girls came back positive for Lyme disease by CDC recognize blood test, while one daughter was equivocal. That is when we realized the belief here was "there is no Lyme disease in Arkansas". Our oldest daughter was denied any medical treatment after her positive Lyme test and our youngest was prescribed an antibiotic that we were instructed NOT to take. We looked everywhere for Lyme or Tick-Borne Illness specialists in Arkansas but found out that none existed in the state. It took us a couple months, but we found a LLMD out of state and got all three thoroughly evaluated and began treatment at our own expense. The girls had Lyme disease, a handful of co-infections and parasites and the youngest daughter also tested positive for two other Tick-Borne diseases. They were so sick! In Feb 2017, we were finally able to get two of our three daughters reported by the Arkansas Dept of Health to the CDC as positive cases of Lyme disease in the State of Arkansas. These are the first 2 reportable cases of Lyme here since 2007!
During all this, I met Amy Rose, who had her own touching and amazing story about Lyme that she had contracted in Arkansas. It hit too close to home to hear how hard she had to search to finally get a correct diagnosis and treatment! This was when we decided to co-found the Arkansas Lyme Foundation. We wanted what happened to us, to not have to happen to another person in Arkansas. It is our hope that if more people are educated to understand what symptoms to look for, they will be more likely to advocate for themselves and demand a correct diagnosis from the beginning; which saves valuable time and leads to a faster recovery down the road. We are all only one tick bite away from being in the same situation. Awareness is protection!