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Ridgefield Lyme Disease Task Force Offers A Helping Hand

Sufferers of Lyme disease may not know where to turn when they are infected. There are several support groups that provide care, advice and ears for listening.

Editor's note: This is part three of a multi-part series about Lyme disease in Ridgefield and the surrounding area. See the links below for previous installments.

Long-term debilitation can be prevented if the detection of  is acted upon quickly. When it isn't, however, a Lyme sufferer may face a long road of treatment and recovery.

Finding support during this time, which can last years, may be a difficult task for some . The first thought when a person suspects they may have Lyme disease will be to find a doctor, but when it comes to the healing process a support group can make the healing easier, according to

“The support groups help Lyme patients learn about books and treatments that can minimize their symptoms,” Reid said.

Claire Bishop, now a member of the LDTF, didn't know where to turn when she was infected with Lyme. It took her a year to learn about the Ridgefield LDTF and she wants other sufferers to know where their town resources are so they can gain support quickly.

“The average Lyme patient sees seven doctors before finding someone who can help them,” Karen Gaudian of the Ridgefield LDTF said.

Attending a support group during the process of finding a doctor may make the process faster. With Lyme sufferers who have been through the stages of searching relentlessly for someone who could help them, they will likely have referrals available at the support meetings. Many attendees of the  have been known to have their doctor’s business card on hand.

“Patients should feel support,” Rita De Bruyne, M.S., LPC of the Ridgefield LDTF said.  

Anyone attending Ridgefield’s Lyme, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Support Group can expect to be listened to and heard, Reid said. The group, which meets during the second Thursday of each month, can be found at the  offices on 90 East Ridge Road.

“We listen to people who are suffering, and we keep the dialogue going,” Reid said.

At the latest support group meeting on July 14, the group spoke about everything from doctor referrals and antibiotics to family support and lack thereof. Gaudian and Reid started the discussion, opening up about their own experiences with Lyme disease.

“I’ve had a family that has had Lyme for the past ten years,” Reid said.

“I’ve had two children with chronic Lyme, but we are starting to make progress,” Gaudian shared.

The Ridgefield Lyme, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Support Group is not the only place that suffers can turn to. Currently active groups in Connecticut include:

Time for Lyme in Greenwich, CT (203) 969-1333

Southbury-Middlebury-Woodbury Support Group (203) 267-5678

TRISHA (Tick Related Illness Self Help Alliance) in Stratford (203) 924-9395

Tribury Lyme Disease Support Group in Southbury, CT--support@triburylyme.org

“Most support groups that I know of have been created by parents of families who have gone through Lyme,” Reid said.

Nationally, there are around 350 Lyme disease support groups, according to Pat Smith, president of the National Nonprofit Lyme Disease Association.

"We keep lists of the support groups as they become available to people," Smith said.

Reid also encourages residents of any town to know where their Health Department is. In cases where an individual finds that a tick has attached to their body, the Health Department can play a crucial role in prompt diagnosis.

“We don’t really know how many Ridgefielders know where the Health Department is,” Reid said. “We want people to know they can bring engorged ticks to the .”

Engorged ticks are full of blood and they are the only ticks that the state of Connecticut will test, according to the Ridgefield LDTF. The testing is always free when a person brings their engorged tick to the Health Department. Ridgefield’s Health Department is located at the Town Hall Anex on 66 Prospect Street.

To find a support group near you, visit: http://www.ilads.org/

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