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Author tackles Lyme Disease in vital new book

By Contributor
March 14th, 2014

Nobody likes to think about ticks, or about Lyme Disease. But you can’t sweep this bug under the rug. Author Vanessa Farnsworth brings Lyme Disease—and her own journey with the bizarrely intelligent tick-borne bacterium—to light in a special presentation Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Library.

Farnsworth’s book, Rain on a Distant Roof: a Personal Journey through Lyme Disease in Canada, examines the science behind this disease as she describes her struggle with its effects, and her battle with an unprepared medical system.

The guilty bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, has been likened by scientists to a creature from outer space for its ability to mimic different cells. Symptoms can be debilitating, affecting many parts of the body including nerves, brain, and heart. “It’s an incredibly complicated illness,” says Farnsworth, who writes about Lyme disease in her blog on

“One of the many Lyme-related problems that we have here in Canada is the way in which health authorities continue to define Lyme disease in such narrow terms— infection with borrelia bacteria and nothing more—and that’s a definition that isn’t helpful to patients stuck in a medical nightmare.”

It also doesn’t help that the habitat of ticks that can carry the disease—most commonly Western Black-legged Ticks in BC— is rapidly expanding, and that the number of cases is expected to rise.

Rain on a Distant Roof offers thought-provoking insight into the daily struggles and obstacles faced by chronic Lyme disease patients. Vanessa Farnsworth’s self-described “tick-shattered life” is an all too common but seldom told story of desperately ill Canadians caught in a healthcare nightmare,”says Susan McInnis, President of Lyme Disease Association of Alberta.

Charlene Diehl, director of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, describes the author as “an excellent advocate for the Lyme community, both on the page and in person: she is articulate, passionate, invested, well-informed, and vital.”

Farnsworth has published more than 100 columns and articles in national and regional publications such as Canadian Gardening, Canadian Living, Harrowsmith Country Life and others, and literary fiction in a number of Canadian and U.S. literary journals.

She appears in West Kootenay Libraries—including Salmo, Nelson, Greenwood, Creston, Kaslo, Radium, and Kimberley—with support from the Kootenay Library Federation and the host libraries.

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