Sunday, December 09, 2018

Leah, an 8-year-old girl, was complaining of headaches, backaches, dizziness and nausea. After months of specialist visits, hospital stays and batteries of tests, there was no diagnosis in sight.

Chaim, a perfect student, suddenly lost interest in yeshiva, had insomnia and couldn’t get up in the morning. A year of psychologist visits and therapy sessions to prevent Chaim from “going off the derech” had no impact on his behavior.

Rochel was diagnosed with arthritis. Shmuel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Miriam was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But their medications were not working. 

The common denominator for all above cases, and countless similar ones?

The actual disease the patient suffered from was Lyme disease, but neither the doctors, nor the tests, picked up on that. The true diagnosis was only discovered once the Life for Lyme organization was contacted.

There is perhaps no common serious disease that is shrouded in as much mystery and is as difficult to diagnose as Lyme disease and related co-infections such as babesiosis, bartonella and tick-borne relapsing fever.

Symptoms for the disease vary greatly, and complicating matters even more is the fact that there is no single reliable and conclusive test for Lyme disease, as there is for virtually every other disease. Many people will discover that they have Lyme disease after having been tested with various tests for the disease and getting a negative result, sometimes repeatedly.

Enigma and misinformation are even prevalent within the medical field, leading otherwise competent doctors, hospitals and laboratories to miss warning signs and offer false diagnoses. Unfortunately, this has frequently led to long, excruciating delays until people afflicted with the disease have been diagnosed and treated. This delay makes the disease’s effects far more debilitating, even deadly, and the treatment options much more difficult and limited.

It is these realities that led Esther Honig of Lakewood to co-found the “Life for Lyme” (Chai for Lyme) organization along with Menachem Resnick, a Brooklyn-based Lyme disease activist. The preeminent medical authority in the field—Dr. Robert Mozayeni, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)—serves as the organization’s chairman. Other partners in this great work include Avrumi Safier, Mirel Goldwasser and others who assist in case work, education and more.

Life for Lyme is a division of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce’s Health and Medical Alliance and has quickly developed into an invaluable community resource that has helped countless men, women and children identify and treat the disease. Duvi Honig, Esther’s husband, is the founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce. He explained, “The Chamber has developed into a powerful global network that reaches all sectors in the business and professional world. Thankfully, through our Health and Medical Alliance, we have been able to reach the top talent in the field of Lyme disease and offer so many lifesaving services.”

In recent months, Life for Lyme has arranged two public teleconferences on Lyme disease featuring Dr. Mozayeni, in which hundreds from across the nation participated. The organization also maintains an informative website and telephone hotline. Calls come in from across the country on a daily basis, and Life for Lyme counselors offer guidance, physician referrals and much more on an individualized basis. Life for Lyme also manages various support groups for those afflicted with Lyme disease and their relatives, as well as those still in the diagnosis process.

For more information about Life for Lyme, how to get involved or to donate, please visit www.lifeforlyme.org.

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