May is a month of vitality, of new life, lush greens and bright sunshine (!), a time for jolly bank holidays and, in the words of Thomas Morley, a time for ‘maying’ (whatever that might entail…). However, it is also the beginning of tick season, where the risk of being bitten by a tick and contracting Lyme Disease becomes far greater as the temperature increases and people spend more time outdoors. If is for this reason that May is Lyme Awareness month.
Now, I realise that most people read this blog with a view to their interest in art, and not nasty ticks. But this time of year has a double significance for me. Not only did I receive the tick bite that was to transform my life almost exactly five years ago today, but it was due to the Lyme awareness campaign in May last year that our family discovered Lyme disease and began the journey to my diagnosis and treatment. However difficult my treatment process seems to be, and however intractable my infection, it was still a huge turning point to understand what had been gradually undermining my health for so long.
So, now is the time to spread the word! My own small contribution is these Lyme awareness cards, which for this month only are on £4 for a pack of 5, a third off the normal price:
More importantly, the Lyme disease community are also holding a peaceful and informative protest outside Richmond House in London this Wednesday between 11am and 4pm. If you are going to be in London why not pop by – you may be lucky enough to encounter a giant cuddly tick and be given your very own spirochete (an air-filled, non-infectious variety!) to take away.
In addition, a fairly new Lyme charity, LymeAid UK, is running an online auction to raise money for patients who cannot afford private testing for Lyme disease. The NHS will often refuse to test patients for Lyme Disease, and moreover the tests they use are highly unreliable, particularly for late-stage infections. Of course, as my own experience has taught me, the diagnosis is only the beginning of a long and difficult journey, but at least patients with a diagnosis know they are on the right track and can add their voice to the thousands of Lyme sufferers who are neglected by the NHS. Here is a taste of what’s on offer:
Lastly, a smidgeon of painting news – a close friend discovered that it is Stephen Fry currently on display in the Manchester Whitworth Gallery, rather than Benedict Cumberbatch. The exhibition is on for another two weeks if you are in the Manchester area!