Main Street ‘yarn bombed’

Dec­o­ra­tions raise aware­ness of Lyme dis­ease

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

It took Mimi East­man seven years and 15 doc­tors be­fore she was fi­nally di­ag­nosed cor­rectly as hav­ing Lyme dis­ease.

“What hap­pens to me, hap­pens to a lot of peo­ple,” the 51-year-old Wilm­ing­ton wo­man said, not­ing there’s no re­li­able test for the dis­ease and many doc­tors miss the symp­toms.

In an ef­fort to raise aware­ness of Lyme dis­ease, East­man and 25 other vol­un­teers spent Satur­day morn­ing “yarn bomb­ing” more than 100 park­ing me­ters along Main Street with green yarn in honor of Lyme Dis­ease Aware­ness month. The vol­un­teers also dec­o­rated the clock tower in front of the Ne­wark Opera House build­ing and the col­umns at the Deer Park Tav­ern.

Each me­ter is also adorned with a lam­i­nated pa­per con­tain­ing a fact about Lyme dis­ease.

“The mis­sion is to raise aware­ness and bring hope to Lyme Dis­ease pa­tients,” she said. “In a way, it’s rec­og­niz­ing them. They’re a huge pop­u­la­tion that’s for­got­ten.”

The mes­sage has an added ur­gency this year, as ex­perts warn 2017 could be a bad year for Lyme due to an in­crease in ticks, which carry the dis­ease and pass it on to hu­mans.

Symp­toms of Lyme – in­clud­ing fever, chills, sweats, mus­cle aches, fa­tigue, nau­sea and joint pain – are of­ten mis­taken for other ail­ments. If some­one feels flu-like symp­toms dur­ing the sum­mer, “9 times out of 10, it’s Lyme dis­ease,” East­man said.

She con­tracted the dis­ease 19 years ago and still suf­fers from chronic nerve pain and back pain. In ad­di­tion, her feet al­ways feel “frozen,” she said Satur­day, point­ing to the fur-lined boots she was wear­ing even as tem­per­a­tures neared 90 de­grees.

She started the an­nual yarn bomb­ing project last year with bless­ing of the city of Ne­wark and this year ex­panded the ef­fort through a new non­profit called Lyme Yarn­bombs, Inc. She and other vol­un­teers yarn bombed Doylestown, Pa., and East­man is hop­ing to go to other towns as well.

The dec­o­ra­tions were con­trib­uted by Lyme pa­tients and knit­ting groups from around the coun­try and as far away as Eng­land. Peo­ple can also sponsor a park­ing me­ter, with the money go­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Lyme and As­so­ci­ated Diseases Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion and Lyme Yarn­bombs, Inc.

Among those help­ing dec­o­rate park­ing me­ters Satur­day was Alina Pfei­fler, who has had Lyme for five years. At its peak, the dis­ease left her un­able to walk or care for her­self, she said.

“It’s im­por­tant to know about early on­set treat­ment,” Pfei­fler said. “When it gets mis­di­ag­nosed, that’s when it be­comes chronic. Early in­ter­ven­tion is key.” Her mom, Colleen Wade, con­curred. “I hope peo­ple think more about ticks and when you’re out­side cover up and check for ticks,” Wade said, as she af­fixed yarn to a park­ing me­ter. “Lyme dis­ease is some­thing that lasts for­ever. You start a new nor­mal, and your life changes. Not enough peo­ple un­der­stand that.”

Vol­un­teer Shari Miller got in­volved be­cause she knows East­man and the strug­gles she has faced.

“It’s a bless­ing to be able to do any­thing to bring aware­ness,” Miller said. “I don’t want any­one to get that dis­ease.”

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Vol­un­teer Shari Miller helps yarn bomb park­ing me­ters on Main Street to raise aware­ness of Lyme dis­ease.

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