Note from RA: After knowing “Grace” the last few months, I felt that the end of her story didn’t fully convey the traumatic damage her body has suffered as a result of her time at Teen Mania, so I asked her to explain it a bit more. Here is her response and then some additional thoughts from me.
I am currently undergoing treatment for my late stage Lyme disease. I wish it hadn’t taken 13 years to diagnose and find treatment, but it did. I struggle on a daily basis with profound fatigue, which affects every move I make. As a side effect of having the Lyme disease for so long untreated, I developed a secondary neurological condition called Myasthenia Gravis. The MG makes my muscles give out or shake with use. It also causes me to have double vision and dysphagia (inability to swallow), and subsequently migraines and liquid diet are the result of these. Simple things like taking laundry down the stairs to the washing machine, and going for walks with my family are difficult and often impossible for me. I’m trying to work around it, and I have a wheelchair so that I can still participate in family activities. I have given up on pursuing my career for now because of my bodily limitations. I long to one day have the mental and physical stamina to go back to work. I get frustrated and angry sometimes that I am not able to do more for myself, but I also realize that patience is required in this time of healing. I am thankful that I have found a doctor that is able to treat me, but treatment requires large doses of antibiotics, among a myriad of other pills and supplements. The treatment exacerbates my many symptoms including the joint pains, headaches, double vision, fatigue, dysphagia, mental fog, and depression. It is hard to keep my head up some days. Treatment for Lyme disease is not often covered by insurance, so my family is now swimming in my medical bills which easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. I am hopeful for healing in my future, and know that God still has plans for me. Today, however, it is a nap!
The tragedy of this situation is that all of this could have been so easily prevented. Honor Academy interns spend A LOT of time in the back forty – ESOAL, the Unreached People Group retreat, the Ropes course and various other activities throughout the year.
I urge Teen Mania to take safety precautions including the following:
1) Tick education and awareness during Gauntlet week. Many interns are unaware of what ticks look like, the dangers they present, how to avoid a tick bite and what to do if bitten.
2) After extended time in the back forty, especially weekend long retreats, mandatory tick checks with a tick buddy from your core group.
3) Periodic reminders/education for all core advisors so that they can facilitate the safety of their interns.
None of these recommendations should be controversial in the least. I urge Teen Mania to examine and adopt them immediately.