Lyme Lives Here

Doctors and lawmakers alike take a stand against this misunderstood disease permeating Southeastern Pennsylvania.



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Now old enough to drink, Jared Shea is completing his final year of eligibility in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. In his community-service-based curriculum, he speaks and reads aloud in the district’s elementary schools with his device, and he’s also a tour guide at a West Chester farm catering to kids with disabilities. Physically, his mother says, “he’s trapped inside a body that’s totally dysfunctional.”

When Jared was 5, a tick bit him, aggravating his symptoms. Later on in life, he fell backward down a set of stairs at school and suffered a concussion and contusions to his thoracic vertebrae—new injury sites and feeding grounds for Lyme to attack. "He was created with this disease," says his mother.

In Jared’s first year of oral and IV antibiotics, he doubled the 54 pounds he weighed at age 10 and grew 10 inches. Sadly, though, 11 years after his Lyme diagnosis, Jared will always require around-the-clock attention. Now, as an adult Lyme patient, he sees Corson.

“There’s a lot Jared has lost,” his mother says. “He’s lost his childhood; he’ll spend his adult life totally disabled. Lyme puts an awful strain on a family, its finances, its dynamics. It’s like enduring a boot camp constantly. Fortunately, we’ve fused as a family—and not just within our blood family, but in the community of Jared supporters.”
 

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