Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pamela Weintraub calls the Chicago Tribune article a "sensationalistic hatchet job"

by Kim Kooyers, SpiroChicks co-founder

I don't even know where to begin with yesterday's Chicago Tribune EDITORIAL. My head is spinning. But while I gain my composure, and work on my own story as Ashley has called us to do (in a nutshell: I would not be able to function or care for my two young children if it weren't for long-term antibiotics). I thought I'd share Pamela Weintraub's response to the article:

Whenever a diagnosis enters the wild west of contested disease, charlatans may prey on the sick--many of whom do not have the disease at all. But to profile this disordered fringe as representative of those on one side of a medical debate while presenting university scientists as representative of the other is biased reporting. In its failure to research the essence of the debate over Lyme disease symptoms that persist after short-term antibiotic treatment, and especially in its failure to interview scientists from mainstream academia to present an alternate viewpoint, this article represents a low in science reporting. This agenda-driven piece rides roughshod over complexities and nuances–and the core ethics of journalism--by implying it has relied on predators for information because legitimate scientists with alternate viewpoints do not exist. I assure you, they do, and would have to be quoted to make this real journalism instead of a sensationalistic hatchet job.

--Pamela Weintraub, Features Editor, Discover Magazine and Author, Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic (Winner of the American Medical Writers Association Book Award, 2009.)

BTW, be sure to check out Lorraine Johnson's response to the article on the CALDA site.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicago Tribune Article and Response

By Ashley Van Tol, SpiroChicks Writer

Today I was quoted in the Chicago Tribune Story Chronic Lyme disease: A dubious diagnosis. The quote came from a post I posted here on SpiroChicks and on Lymenaide in April after the IDSA made their "decision" about the Lyme disease guidelines.

Here is what was quoted from the post IDSA vs. Lymies-
...Egging the IDSA building or somehow infecting the committee members with Lyme sounds great because we are pissed off. However, these are not realistic or appropriate actions.

We need to fight back by telling our story louder than theirs....
In the wake of this latest attack on the validity of our illness, that last line "We need to fight back by telling our story louder than theirs" is once again our best course of action.

Today's Tribune articles drags Lyme doctor's and patients through the mud. Here is an excerpt from the article. Read the entire article here-

...Lyme disease is real. The bacterial infection, chiefly transmitted by deer ticks, can cause rashes, swollen joints and inflamed nerves, and usually is curable with a round of antibiotics.

But doctors around the country are telling patients with common medical problems such as back pain, poor concentration and fatigue that their ailments stem from a chronic form of Lyme disease that can evade standard treatment and wreak havoc for years. To fight what they believe is a persistent infection, the doctors often order months or years of intravenous antibiotics, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Strong evidence isn't on their side. But in a golden age of dubious medicine, that doesn't matter.

These days, advocates can raise big money to "Unmask A Cure" for a disease that already has a cure, and doctors disciplined by medical boards are held up as heroes. Legislatures around the country are passing laws to prevent medical boards from disciplining doctors who treat what they consider chronic Lyme with therapies that clinical trials have shown are dangerous and don't work...

It is another kick in the face for Lyme patients and doctors. I said it back in April and I am saying it again today, we can turn this around in our favor. Tell your story. Show them that they don't know what they are talking about. Let's prove to them that they are wrong.

I spent a lot of time on the response I wrote to the article. I wanted to be sure that it was well thought out and clearly illustrated my side of the story. I urge you to do the same. Do not reply with anger and emotion. Plan your response and prove your point with it.

Here is the link to my response to today's article- My Lyme Disease is not the IDSA Lyme Disease.

I sent it to the reporters who wrote the Tribune article. I am working on a response for a letter to the editor. Please note that letters to the editor must be under 400 words, be signed and include contact information, writer's city and state

Here are the email addresses to send your replies to the Chicago Tribune-


Letters to the Editor -