Did you hear whoops of excitement from Virginia this week?
A history-making bill (SB971) that would require doctors to inform patients of the inaccuracy of Lyme testing is under consideration right now in my great state. I would have traveled to Richmond to support the bill in person, if I weren’t so ill with lyme myself.
Above is a video from YouTube of the January 29 debate in the state Senate earlier this week. If you are aren’t a hearing junkie, scan for the opposition’s argument, and fast-forward to these sections for compelling highlights:
[15:15] Senator Richard H. Black, who introduced this bill. When asked if consideration has been made as to how the bill could intrude on patient/physician relationships (many doctors oppose the bill), Senator Black replies respectfully, “I have tremendous faith in our physicians and I believe in their ability to do their jobs. I feel like in this particular area [Lyme disease] that this is a measure that would be of assistance and I think that it is something we owe to the people in the vast areas of Virginia that are afflicted by this.”
The Senator then cites incidence charts [21:15] and says that while his district is ground zero for Lyme in Virginia, other areas also have a very high incidence.
[29:27] Senator Janet Howell. “My constituents are suffering from a plague we have in my district, in Reston where there are whole families who are afflicted by this.”
She offers terrific commentary on the complexity of this disease and the challenges of prevention.
She hears us. And she understands that diagnosis and treatment must be timely to stave off the nightmare of full-blown lyme.
[31.58] Senator Thomas A. Garrett, Jr. “I am loathe to tell doctors how to do their jobs, but there’s a problem…people are getting sick, and people are dying.”
Listen to the story of his nephew’s experience at four years old: Despite his rash and other symptoms, doctors told his family that we don’t have Lyme disease in Virginia.
[34.21] Senator Jill Vogel “Loudoun, Fairfax, Fauquier, and Loudoun [counties] have been ravaged by lyme, and if you do not have it in your community, you cannot imagine the impact it can have.”
“I would support anything we could do — Public Service Announcements, education in schools — some effort where people could be at a mininum put on notice, because many many poeple have been treated for chronic fatigue syndrome, they’ve been treated for many many other things — when they were actually dying from complications from lyme disease.”
She’s lived it; she and her son as well as their family dogs have been infected. She says that in her community, every single household has lyme disease.
I know for certain this bill can help people. I’ve been battling Lyme for three years now because my general practitioner did not understand that the tests are inaccurate.
I was one of the lucky ones who actually saw the tick bite, but despite ongiong symptoms, she stopped treating me when my test results came back negative.
Like so many others, I’ve lost my health and vitality to this preventable chronic disease because of a simple lack of information. And experienced many losses because of it. I’m just thankful I found a Lyme literate doctor. Many others aren’t so fortunate.
Republicans and Democrats have come together to support this critical bill. This week, the Virginia Senate passed the Bill 29 to 11. Let’s hope it goes all the way.
The story isn’t done yet. The Medical Society of Virginia and many doctors are opposed to this bill. For the latest information, visit the National Capital Lyme Association. And if you’re from Virginia, write your Delegate today.