By Chris Hagan
Review Staff Writer
Parents expect to share certain things with their children.
A few that come to mind are morals, family heirlooms, vacations, and memories. But no parent expects to pass on a disease they were initially told was impossible to transmit.
That’s the reality for the Teachout Family as all five members, including their three children, are dealing with the effects of Lyme Disease.
In November 2014, after many years of seemingly disconnected medical issues and questions, Sheena Teachout, 32, was diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease, a late stage of the disease that has affected neurological functions and progressed beyond what the standard treatment protocols often associated with the disease would address.
Symptoms began showing after the birth of their first child, Carter, eight years ago. Sheena soon suffered from severe blood pressure issues which sent it on a roller-coaster of changes. Several years passed and she continued to have various medical issues including loss of vision in her right eye.
Additionally, Sheena has contracted a number of co-infections associated with Lyme Disease. Over the next several months, the family learned that Sheena’s husband, AJ, as well as their three children ages 8, 4 and 2 are all infected with Lyme Disease.
‘Our family had been to a number of doctors, endured hundreds of tests, emergency room visits, hospital stays and many years of guessing the cause of our medical issues,? AJ Teachout said. ‘Only in the past year did we find out that Lyme Disease has caused the majority of these issues. Yet, we have even more questions now and are no closer to being healthier.?
The challenges associated with having Lyme Disease are numerous, and while the focus on the disease has been amplified recently, the frequent misconceptions about it from the medical community and the lack of awareness by the general public have not increased the availability of research funds to help with the diagnosis and treatment. This leaves much of the burden on the patient and the few doctors that specifically treat the disease.
Currently, the CDC lists Lyme Disease as solely contractable through that of a tick bite and does not support the claim that it’s transmitted via sexual intercourse or through child birth. CDC claims the evidence and lack of testing does not allow them to support the claim.
It’s been a constant source of frustration amongst the Teachout family as they believe the CDC needs to invest more time and funding into testing.
‘We need to spread awareness of this because it’s a big thing on the national level,? Sheena said. ‘We want to inform people so their heart, lungs and other organs aren’t affected like mine.?
According to LymeDisease.org, Lyme disease is much more common than previously thought, with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. That makes Lyme Disease almost twice as common as breast cancer and six times more common than HIV/AIDS.
Although Sheena suffered with the most extreme symptoms, their children have issues in connection with Lyme Disease.
Their youngest, Mason, 2, is suffering from hydrocephalus which is a buildup of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Carter, 8, is their oldest child and according to AJ and Sheena, he suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and it’s accompanied by severe headaches.
Once the family was diagnosed they began taking a regime of antibiotics. After a couple weeks the Teachout family began showing signs of improvement. Sheen’s loss of vision went away and Mason’s speech issues began to improve almost immediately. But as their health was starting to improve, their medical bills began drastically increasing.
‘The medical bills have pretty much been constant even with our health insurance,? AJ said. ‘It’s been extremely expensive and almost unbearable to keep up with.?
Medical costs for the family of five amount to more than $3,000 per month, as the majority of the expenses are not covered by health insurance. This is due primarily to the lack of consistency around testing, diagnosis and individualized treatment standards from the medical and insurance communities.
A fundraiser, hosted by Firmly Rooted Ministries, is being held on April 17 at Boulder Pointe Golf Club in Oxford to help offset the financial burden. Donations for the fundraiser are being collected by Firmly Rooted Ministries of Oxford, through the James Fund, a fund established by the organization to help local families in need.
For more information or to donate, please contact Kimberly Donnelly, 248-830-0269, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.firmlyrooted.org.
The Teachout family will also challenge the attendees of the fundraiser to ‘take a bite out of Lyme? by biting into a lime wedge, raising awareness of the disease. Video and photos of others doing the challenge can be found throughout social media channels using #LymeDiseaseChallenge.
More information about Lyme Disease can be found at www.lymedisease.org
Information about the Lyme Disease Challenge can be found at www.lymediseasechallenge.org
By Chris Hagan