Lori Dennis’ impassioned book, Lyme Madness, is the work of an unintentional activist. I picked it up expecting a detailed medical memoir about Dennis’ son Matt’s struggle with Lyme Disease. In fact, I’d guess that barely ten percent of the book is actually about the day-to-day of her son’s Lyme battle, rather it’s about Lori Dennis’ journey as a mom fighting and learning about Lyme.
I have chronic Lyme Disease, and have been treated by a Lyme-literate medical professional for over two years. As the picture above shows, there are many Lyme-related books on my shelves, and more are on my e-reader too. Based on what I’ve read, I think Lyme Madness is a great book for people with Lyme to give their family, friends, and caregivers.
Lori Dennis explains the politics of Lyme Disease in detail, helping clarify a muddy pond of disagreement and frustration. She is an outraged mama bear, extremely disillusioned by the medical establishment’s anti-Lyme positions. Her chapters explore different elements of the controversy, from the CDC to the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) to individual physicians both willing and unwilling to consider the science presented by researchers associated with the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). Dennis also discusses the unique challenges for Canadian patients with Lyme.
In terms of writing style, Lyme Madness reads like one long rant. Dennis tells of her long-standing issues with the medical profession, even before encountering Lyme Disease. No question that she came into this fight with a chip on her shoulder. I admire Dennis for putting it all out there, but the whole book reads very emotionally, with so much sarcasm and bitterness. By the end I felt like she’d been yelling at me for days. I love the passion, but the delivery was tough to handle.
Like many people fighting Lyme for themselves or family members, Dennis credits Facebook with giving her connections to and support from other “Lymies.” I have also experienced this, and it can make a big difference. However, Dennis uses long, unedited, and poorly written quotes from other folks in her FB groups extensively. Most people don’t write for publication on social media. With permission, I would have wanted some of them edited, just as I think the book as a whole could stand with a strong professional edit.
Lyme Madness is a manifesto for radical Lyme activism. I agree with Dennis’ comparisons to the AIDS movement, which changed that disease’s landscape. People living with Lyme Disease, with the support of anyone who believes in them, are the only way the treatment of this pandemic will change. I give Lori Dennis huge props for her part in that effort.
Thanks to NetGalley, Lori Dennis, and Soulwork Publishing to an digital advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
If you’re interested in more information about Lyme Disease, I’d also recommend the following:
Cure Unknown by Pamela Weintraub
The Last Letter by Susan Pogorzelski
Freedom from Lyme Disease: New Treatments for a Complete Recovery by Bryan Rosner
Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease by Richard I. Horowitz