Riding to Beat Lyme Disease

An adventurous young man who once suffered from Lyme disease is cycling across America, and his next stop is New York City.

John Donnally, riding 4,000 miles to raise awareness about Lyme disease, its diagnosis, and cure for the Tick Borne Disease Alliance

By cycling 4,000 miles from California, a trip he started 2 months ago, John Donnally, 24, is trying to make American’s aware of the need for new cures and diagnoses for Lyme disease.

He’s doing it for a new organization, the Tick Borne Disease Alliance, that was started by Staci Grodin, who also has been suffering from the condition since 1994.

Mr. Donnally will stop in Fort Lee, NJ next week on Dec. 1 and pick up a group of cyclists who are willing to brave the cold with him for his final leg into the Big Apple.

Lyme disease is all too familiar to cyclists in the New York-New Jersey area.

Those we interviewed who have been afflicted with Lyme’s have described its pernicious effects–in one case, not being able to diagnose it until it had caused harmful damage to their neurological system, or repeated drug strategies that did little to alleviate severe joint problems. In both instances those cyclists stopped riding for long periods of time.

So how could a Lyme-disease sufferer  like Donnally bicycle so many miles, especially in this blistering cold? Three people are helping him on this trip, two drivers, one who doubles as a cameraman and a cycling guide. Not to mention the van that carries his belongings, and can serve as a welcome relief if Donnally gets too tired.

The organization’s founder, Ms. Grodin said she started TBDA because she thought there were inadequate diagnostic tests available to the medical community, and because the cures are just as difficult to achieve as the diagnoses. She hopes to get the Lyme community together to work on the problem, she said though her press agent.

Mr. Donnally, who came up with the idea of biking across the country to highlight the organization’s efforts, was very sick before he received proper treatment.  “You feel numb and catatonic, sort of like being underwater; and you experience a mental slowness, an epidemic lack of clarity, an inability to organize your thoughts or even to remember what you said ten seconds ago.”

“And what makes this all particularly insidious is that while you’re suffering with this paralyzing mental confusion, you look normal, perfectly healthy on the outside,” he wrote on the TBDA website.

As part of his symptoms, Donnally described, “Internal ringing in my ears, lockjaw, facial twitching, eye floaters, and other unpleasant side-effects.” Though he can no longer drink alcohol, or eat wheat, Donnally said he is “almost’ back at full health.

Ms. Grodin has never fully recovered, she said. “But  with the combination of eastern and western medicine over the years Staci has almost gotten back to her old self,” said her press agent.

You can meet up with Donnally at Strictly Bicycles in Fort Lee, NJ on Dec. 1, at 1 PM and ride with him into New York City. Hopefully, the weather will be cooperating. Apparently, the Fort Lee Police will be providing an escort for the group’s ride across the George Washington Bridge!