Author Tags: Health

When she was diagnosed with Lyme's disease in 2007, Vanessa Farnsworth became the first person in her area of southeastern B.C. to have a confirmed case of the disease. Carried by infected ticks, Lyme's disease has been mostly associated with eastern Canada.

"When I was finally hospitalized," she says, "I started to hear the names of infectious diseases alongside those of autoimmune illnesses and at the time the only thing I could think was, 'Canít doctors tell the difference?' I mean, canít they tell whether Iím being attacked by my own immune system or by an invading organism?"

Having heard doctors openly guess that she might have malaria or blood poisoning or rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis, Farnsworth became aware of how unfamiliar the medical establishment was with the Lyme's disease. Curiosity and her personal predicament led her to undertake some research of her own, leading to freelance articles on the disease.

"Twenty years ago, Long Point in Ontario was the only spot in Canada where public health officials could say for certain there was a population of Lyme infected ticks," she says.

"If you were to look up where infected ticks make their homes today, you would find that their territory has expanded rather dramatically. So if you live work or play anywhere in Southern Ontario, Southern Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Southeastern Manitoba, or many points in southern British Columbia, then you too can come into contact with an infected tick."

Lyme disease is also endemic to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, and is a growing threat in the Okanagan Valley, on the Gulf Islands, and in many of the province's southern valleys.

Migratory birds can carry infected ticks to almost anywhere in Canada, so Farnsworth has issued a wake-up call, Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada (Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2013) $19.95 978-1927426-23-4

Vanessa Farnsworth has published more than 100 columns and articles (including several on Lyme disease) in national and regional publications, including Canadian Gardening, Canadian Living, Cottage, Garden Making, The Creston Valley Advance, The Grower, Harrowsmith Country Life, Kootenay Life East, Route 3, and Vitality Magazine. She holds a degree in English from Toronto's York University, a diploma in print journalism from Oakville's Sheridan College, and she studied creative writing at The Humber School for Writers. Her literary fiction has been published in journals across Canada and in the United States, including The Dalhousie Review, dANDelion, The New Quarterly, PRECIPICe, Qwerty, and Reed Magazine.

You can visit Vanessa Farnsworthís Lyme disease web site at: http://www.lymediseasebook.com

Date and Place of Birth: Mississauga, Ontario, 1968
Place of Residence: Creston, BC
Arrival in BC: 2003


Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada (Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2013) $19.95 978-1927426-23-4

[BCBW 2013]

Promotional Copy

By 2020, itís estimated that more than 80 percent of the population of eastern Canada will be living in regions that are endemic for Lyme disease and the numbers of infections are expected to soar. Yet what remains unknown about this debilitating illness continues to trump what is known, placing the health of Canadians increasingly at risk.

Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada uses the latest in scientific and medical research to explore the considerable challenges that have placed Lyme disease at the center of the most fractious debate in modern medicine. Those challenges include the inability of doctors to properly diagnose the illness, the absence of reliable medical tests, the reliance on controversial treatment guidelines, and a public health response that is, at best, problematic.

Along the way, readers are introduced to the bizarrely intelligent bacterium at the root of the Lyme disease Ė a bacterium so strange that scientists describe it in terms normally reserved for the creatures found only in science fiction - by the author, whose own terrifying battle with the disease unfolds before readersí eyes.

This book is a mixture of biography and scientific discovery.