Tuesday, May 5, 2015

We Made A Difference

We Made a Difference.
By Kerry Nelson

On May 2, 2015, we made a difference. We participated in the first annual Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education Conference, which was put together by Paula Jackson Jones and Angele Rice. Those two women have worked tirelessly to advocate for people with tick-borne illness, despite their own health issues.

My daughter and I, along with Alison Kelsey-Bryant and her daughter, were in charge of the merchandise table. We were stationed in the lobby of the Wiscasset Community Center and we had the privilege of watching 254 people enter the facility. Some planned for months to attend the conference; others were driving by and saw the sign. Some walked smoothly; some walked slowly; some came on crutches; some came in wheelchairs. Some came to learn for themselves; some came to learn for their loved ones; some came to tell their stories; some came to tell the stories of those who did not make it. Each of them came because they are affected in some way by tick-borne illnesses.

We met people from neighboring towns and some from as far away as Fort Kent, Maine and from Rhode Island. We even met a family who drove their camper from just outside Detroit, Michigan to Wiscasset, ME, just to come to this conference so they could get information and try to find a doctor for their son. We heard the same kind of comments over and over again. “My doctor didn’t believe me, he said it was stress.” “I had every test known to man and they still didn’t find anything.” “They thought I was making it up.” “I nearly died.” “I lost my job.” “I didn’t find a tick or a rash.” “I’m so tired of being sick.”

By afternoon, we started hearing different comments. “I have learned so much today.” “I’m going to find myself a Lyme-literate doctor.” “Now, I know what to do.” “Thank you so much for having this conference.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

So, yes, we made a difference, not because we sold merchandise, but because we participated. We listened. We answered questions. We shared our stories. We offered support. It doesn’t matter that we are exhausted and sore today. It doesn’t matter that it might take days for some of us to recuperate after all of the preparation and then the long day of the conference. It matters that we were there.