What it’s like to live with chronic pain

What it’s like to live with chronic pain
Coco Aramaki
Coco Aramaki

This past summer was projected to be one of the worst tick seasons on record. And with a higher tick population, the chance of contracting Lyme disease also rises.

Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from a tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, there were 28,453 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. One of the most common signs of infection is a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye. But not everyone develops a rash or the typical symptoms of the disease: fever, joint pain, headaches. And because symptoms of Lyme are similar to other conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose immediately. However, if left undiagnosed, the disease can transform into chronic Lyme disease, which can lead to a lifetime of pain and malaise.

Spoken-word poet Andrea Gibson can attest to the debilitating nature of Lyme disease. Gibson started feeling sick in 2003 but did not receive a definitive diagnosis until years later. The chronic pain they endure as a result can often last for months. However, they use poetry as a recourse and a way to face their suffering head-on.

Gibson’s new full-length album Hey Galaxy will be released on Jan. 12.