A Skier Puts Her Chronic Disease In the LymeLight
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In October 2009 freeskier Angeli VanLaanen was diagnosed with Lyme disease, 14 years after she first contracted the illness. As a result of the late diagnosis, the 26-year-old former X-Games competitior has had a number of health issues. Now, she's working to make a documentary called LymeLight to help raise awareness about the disease, in hopes that others can spot it sooner.
A 2010 report from ESPN detailed her fight. Her first symptoms appeared when she was just 10 years old, and often disappeared soon after, leaving her to dismiss them at times. As her skiing career took off and she suffered symptoms like dizzyness and joint soreness, she was misdiagnosed with mononucleosis.
Roughly half of those people who get Lyme disease fail to spot the red bull's eye left on the skin when a spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia Bergdorferi, enters the body through a tick bite. If the disease is caught within the first six to eight weeks, it can be wiped out. If it exists undiagnosed past that stage, the bacteria can move to various areas in the body and cause long-term problems with the heart, joints, and nervous system. At this point, it becomes Chronic Lyme Disease and is often misdiagnosed. Many of its symptoms mimic those of multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.