In March 2011, Louis Poletti was a senior at Santa Clara University, majoring in finance and economics. He needed only a few more units to graduate and hoped to soon launch himself into an exciting career.
Then, he started to experience bizarre symptoms: trouble sleeping, profuse sweating at night, a feeling of disorientation. One day he woke up and his legs didn’t work right. “Like they weren’t even part of my body,” he remembers. He stumbled to class, not sure he’d make it there safely. Over the next few days, symptoms kept piling on. His eyes became acutely sensitive to light; he had trouble focusing his thoughts.
Even though he was so close to the finish line, he was too debilitated to carry on and had to drop out of school. At first, none of the doctors he saw could pinpoint the problem. Eventually, however, he found a Lyme-literate physician in the San Francisco Bay Area and was diagnosed with Lyme disease, bartonella and babesia.
Months of treatment, including IV antibiotics, helped him recover enough to return to school. At this writing, he’s a few weeks away from earning his degree. One of his final classes—Writing for Business, with Professor Dolores LaGuardia—requires the students to put on an event to benefit a non-profit organization.
Because of his experience, he persuaded his classmates to raise awareness—and funds—for LymeDisease.org.
At 7 pm, on Sunday, March 4, Louis and his class will stage an event called “Lyme Disease, a ticking time bomb,” at the Locatelli Student Activity Center on the Santa Clara University campus.
The event will feature:
A screening of the Lyme documentary “Under Our Skin”
A local patient discussing her experience with the disease
A question & answer session with a Lyme-literate doctor, Mischa Grieder, ND.
A raffle with a variety of prizes, including tickets to San Jose Sharks hockey games and an Amazon Kindle Fire.
Louis doesn’t think most college students know much about Lyme. “In my class of about 30, maybe half had heard about the disease, but only a handful knew what it was capable of, and how it was transmitted,” he says.
He hopes this event will help change that. “Lyme is a growing problem,” he says. “These students may have it themselves someday, or somebody close to them may have it. We’ve got to raise awareness.”
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. Contact her at email@example.com.