2018-01-13 / Front Page

Local Lyme disease support group forms


Luke Dunham (left) and Thomas Putnam prepare to distribute information about the Tioga/ Potter County Lyme Disease Support Group. Its first meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 pm in Wellsboro. 
John Eaton photo Luke Dunham (left) and Thomas Putnam prepare to distribute information about the Tioga/ Potter County Lyme Disease Support Group. Its first meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 pm in Wellsboro. John Eaton photo A Lyme disease support group has been formed for victims and family members in Potter and Tioga counties. Its first meeting is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 pm Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Tokishi Training Center at 124 Nypum Drive in Wellsboro.

Organizers Thomas Putnam and Luke Dunham said the local group, which is affiliated with the Pa. Lyme Resource Network, is for anyone who is diagnosed with the tick-borne illness as well those who believe they may be afflicted.

“Looking back, I know I had symptoms starting in 2009,” said Dunham. “Between 2012 and 2013, I did not feel well, but my worst symptoms started in 2014.”

Dunham was suffering from severe fatigue, migrating joint pain, heart palpitations, neurological problems, difficulty with short-term memory (“brain fog”, and the feeling that he was not getting enough oxygen (“air hunger”).

He still feels the effects, but considers himself about 75 percent recovered. Long-term antibiotics, supplements and diet are the main treatment options.

Putnam was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an infectious disease specialist last May.

“The symptoms hit me hard in March,” he explained. “I had extreme lightheadedness and had to hang onto walls or crawl just to move from room to room.”

His white blood cell count was low. He had roving joint pain, headaches, a 103-degree fever at times and severe fatigue. Putnam continues to follow a rigorous treatment plan and is on the mend.

Lyme can be much more complex than an acute bacterial infection that can be diagnosed and easily cured. People can be infected by Lyme and one or more co-infections.

“Tick-borne disease would be a better name, since there are many possible infections that can result from ticks and other vector-borne transmitters,” Putnam said. “Thomas and I think it’s important to offer support and guidance to those who are suffering. The best words someone in this situation can hear are ‘I believe you’.”

More information is available at 570-439-2000.

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