The second annual Living Well With Lyme Disease conference at Omega in June 2015 brought together people with Lyme along with health-care practitioners, caregivers, and others impacted by the condition.
The response from the community was one of both resounding support and empowerment. Almost 200 people attended the weekend with 119 people receiving full and partial scholarships.
Participants of all ages and genders came to seek answers and find solutions, including Noelle, Elizabeth, and Rebecca, three scholarship recipients.
“Someone once told me that getting a chronic illness is like getting a PhD in being alive,” said Noelle, a scholarship recipient from Massachusetts who is getting certified as a life coach to help others dealing with Lyme. “There were so many PhDs at the conference, people that have learned so much.”
“I’ve been sick for 14 years, off and on,” she said. “I’ve been to a lot of support groups and done a lot of communing with other folks with Lyme but doing it in this environment was extra special. I was filled with more joy and energy than I’ve ever felt.”
To help reach Lyme sufferers who don’t have access to in-person coaching, Noelle is working on a virtual support group that will offer tips on how to heal yourself from the inside out.
Elizabeth, a family nurse practitioner for almost 35 years from New York, also suffered with Lyme. She says she attended the conference to learn more about treatment not just for tick illnesses but also for environmental pollutants and coexisting conditions.
“The conference is going to allow me to be a more comprehensive practitioner in my work," she said. "With this scholarship I am able to use the information I have received at Omega to help my patients. As a licensed family nurse practitioner, I can write prescriptions and order appropriate tests. I’m very excited to get back to work, and be even more helpful to people dealing with Lyme and tick borne illnesses.”
Rebecca, from Vermont, has a 12 year old son who is now eight years into his healing journey. She shared that once his symptoms improved and the family was out of crisis mode, she realized all they had been through.
“It didn’t have to be as bad as it was,” she said. “The social isolation piece. The financial disaster. So many different aspects of our lives were affected. There’s an intense focus on the ‘who done it’ of the politics and what’s causing the disease, but my take is that the experience of the disease is not being fully addressed.”
Rebecca is now completing a master's degree to become a mental health clinician.
“Before this conference, I had been on the fence about whether or not I wanted to focus exclusively on Lyme in my practice,” Rebecca said. “It was said several times here and it was really affirming: the root for everything is compassion. I now feel I can invest in this community because the conference reminded me that there’s more than just the darkness.”