Lehigh County, PA
Infected: November 2009
Current health: Suffering neurologically – “I have really declined in the last 5 months and have neuropathy, severe body and bone pain.”
Cartoons are my way of expressing hope, humor, politics, and, yes, even revolt at the tug-of-war in which we find ourselves regarding funding, diagnosis, treatment, education, a cure, prevention, and public apathy [about Lyme]. I’m just writing and drawing about Lyme disease as I see it, hear it, and feel it. … My heart and thoughts go out to all suffering with Lyme, especially the kids. It’s a horrible fight on so many fronts, but never give up! -Dave Skidmore
David Skidmore was bitten by a tick while on a family hike in rural Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, like many, he was not diagnosed with Lyme until coming down with some severe symptoms. After several years of suffering, dozens of doctors and treatments, and much learning about the controversy that surrounds this disease, Dave is fighting back. Today, feeling stronger, he has turned his creative talents into a provocative cartoon series entitled “Lyme Loonies.” See his story and some of his cartoons below:
“The onset and progression of my Lyme started with a hike in the woods of Pennsylvania in November 2009 with my father, sister, and her girls. The next day, I felt a little bump on the back of my arm which was not visible. Like any new bump on one’s body, I examined it in the mirror and there was the tick, burrowed into my arm, having its meal. The next thing I noticed was the bullseye rash surrounding the tick. I did the tweezer thing and removed it as best I could. My thoughts were, ‘No big deal, a little antibiotic and I’ll be good to go!’ I knew nothing of the horror I was about to experience.
“I was an avid outdoors person prior to this whole mess, and like most people, unfortunately even now, thought if I get bitten by a tick, no big deal…a little antibiotics and life as usual. Well, for those of us caught up in this nightmare, we can attest that Lyme disease is anything but normal.
“I was given twenty days of oral Doxycycline, and thought no more about it. Until about three weeks to a month later, when I started coming down with flu-like conditions. Probably thirty doctors and almost two years later, a doctor finally looked at me and said the magic word…tick! “Have you ever been bitten by a tick?” to be exact.
“Upon finding out that I had Lyme, it didn’t take long to become entrenched in reading about the disease and the controversy, in both the medical field and politics. I won’t go into the details other than to say that what Lyme patients have suffered through for going on 40 years has been compared to the early AIDS campaign and how they fought, suffered, died, and endured to gain recognition and finally funding and treatment.
“Being a cartoonist and sarcastic by nature, I began writing and drawing from my own experiences. For almost five years, I have had the disease, every co-infection, and major neurological complications. Yes – I have all the goodies! Never before in life was I so driven and inspired to do something. When you’re on the other side of the fence and entangled in a disease that is overlooked, unfunded, and in many cases compared to Hypochondria or mental health issues, in my opinion, one needs to be as loud as they can. The cartoons have been my way in doing just that.
“A friend of mine, John McPherson — the well known cartoonist and creator of “Close to Home” and Lyme sufferer himself, after seeing a couple of my cartoons said, “You should put these on Twitter!” And that was the beginning of Lyme Loonies cartoons.
“Lyme Loonies cartoons are about many things. They are about hope, holding on to a sense of humor, politics, and yes, even revolt, given the tug of war we find ourselves in regarding funding, diagnosis, treatment, education and or a lack thereof. The name Lyme Loonies was born when I read an article about a well known doctor who was stepping down as CEO of a federal organization. As he was bidding goodbye he wrote in an e-mail “I’m going to miss you people – and the scientists, but I’m not going to miss the LYME LOONIES!”… Bingo! I thought. As I see it, this doctor’s use of the term “Lyme loonies” was disparaging and caused a lot of harm both emotionally and scientifically. But as a Lyme patient I the remark could be empowering. By launching the Lyme Loonies cartoons, [the doctor] will see that name and know that we in the Lyme community will not be diminished by a flippant phrase. We have embraced it as ours! Aside from making people laugh, I have taken some very political shots at those agencies I feel are responsible for lack of attention, aid, and humanity.
“I hope one day, sooner than later, that the Lyme community gets the much needed care and attention it deserves as this is not just about those who are and have been suffering, but also about a future of men, women, and children that could or will fall prey to this disease. There is a lot of controversy regarding Lyme disease and the diagnosis and treatment of it. I truly hope that one day, it will all be sorted out, and we will get the help we need and deserve! No matter what side of the fence you’re on regarding Lyme disease, we are human beings, with parents, children, loved ones and families, some of which are holding on as best they can, so don’t make fun of us…help us.’
And tweet David on Twitter. He wants to hear from you!