Yesterday, I saw the movie The Dallas Buyers Club. It’s about a rodeo man in Texas in the 1980s and his battle with finding effective treatment for his AIDS. After nearly dying from taking AZT, Ron decides to go to Mexico to pursue alternative treatments. He brings back a huge stockpile and starts selling them to HIV/AIDS patients all over Dallas and creates the Dallas Buyers Club. The FDA, doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and even the IRS fight him at every turn. The doctors that go against the grain are fired and get their licenses revoked. In the movie, according to the FDA, the government decides how people are treated for diseases, not Ron and other AIDS patients. His lack of agency fuels his battle even more.
Sound familiar? As I was sitting in the theater watching the movie, I just wanted to jump right into the movie and give Ron a hug. I, and so many Lyme patients, know exactly what he was going through. The government treats Lyme today like they treated AIDS in the 1980s. There is confusion on how it is contracted, there are disagreements on how to treat it, and it is widely misunderstood- all while people are dying in the crossfire. Since the IDSA/CDC mandated guidelines are completely ineffective, patients are forced to look elsewhere for treatment.
AIDS treatment has improved drastically since the 1980s. This gives me hope that in 20 or 30 years, Lyme will be just as widely recognized. The government will have to look back and say “That was a mistake. That was bad.”
In the meantime, we have to be like Ron. Keep fighting for our basic right to have a opportunity at being healthy.
P.S. Check out this article about Lyme that appeared in my school newspaper! You might just see a familiar name. 🙂