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Oberlin resident wants to raise Lyme disease awareness

5/11/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

OBERLIN -- Kem Bryan often didn't feel well and was tired, but she thought that was normal for everyone.

Then in 2009 her sickness got worse, and the doctor visits began.

Altogether, she's seen more than 40 doctors and was diagnosed with Lyme disease just last year.

May is Lyme disease awareness month, and Bryan decided to speak out after receiving an email from Judith Weeg, president of the Lyme Disease United Coalition.

Long known as a tick-borne illness, Bryan said experts now know the bacterial infection can be spread by other insects.

"They know more now than they did five years ago, and in five years they'll know more," Bryan said.

Now 54, Bryan said she last felt healthy when she was 17. That's led her and her doctors to believe she must have gotten the disease at that time.

However, it can lay dormant until something like an illness or stress triggers it.

There are others in northwest Kansas who have been diagnosed with the disease.

"I would love to get a support group started," she said.

While her husband, family and friends have been supportive, "you just need somebody else to talk to about it."

Bryan said most days she can function pretty well and feels good for three weeks out of four. She hasn't begun a treatment regimen yet because of other health issues that might be caused by the disease.

The disease can produce flu-like symptoms -- fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain, fever, chills, swollen glands and sore throat. About one-third have a bulls-eye rash from the bite.

The same flu-like symptoms can occur later along with depression, sensitivity to light, sound, motion and odors and irregular heartbeat.