Jill before the illness.
Jill earned her bachelors degree in 1990 and went on to work in social services and education. In her late 20’s she began training for beach volleyball and enjoyed competitive tournaments in canada and the us. In her early thirties she became a personal trainer and ran a very successful business along with her full time job with the vancouver school board, playing competitive beach volleyball , running half marathons, and coaching high school volleyball.
In 2008 she returned to college ft to become certified as a recreation therapist.
The following year, close to christmas, jill became ill with lyme disease and was bedridden for months. She had to drop out of college. She lost all the pension monies invested in her new life.
Jill searched for medical professionals to tell her what was wrong, but noone was able to diagnose the disease causing all of her symptoms...some of which include: chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression/anxiety, panic disorder, overactive bladder syndrome, irritable bowel, tinnitus, hypothyroidism, vertigo, tmj syndrome, chronic insomnia/headaches, temperature dysregulation syndrome, adrenal fatigue, cortisol dysregulation, multiple allergies, skin issues, chemical sensitivities, vertigo, nausea, osteoarthritis, insomnia, anorexia (lack of appetite), neurological pain/damage, cognitive difficulties, visual, auditory and olfactory disturbances, and brain damage.
Finally in 2012 she was diagnosed formally with lyme disease. She has been chasing wellness ever since…..she Takes at least 20 medicines/supplements daily. At least 80% are not covered by alberta works….the health insurance program for low income earners. She must eat a strict diet of no dairy/gluten/sugar/processed foods. She has also become vegetarian in an attempt to decrease the inflammation in her body.
Jill lives with and adores her four rescue/therapy dogs…..three have worked with her in mental health facilities.
During her journey to be diagnosed and treated, jill entered into what was first an unhealthy, and ultimately an abusive relationship for over five years. He withdrew all support shortly after the relationship ended. Jill is in desperate need of financial support due to her condition and isolation in a city where she knows very few people.
She is now an Advocate for animals, people with chronic illness, and victims of domestic abuse. She runs an online lyme disease support group ,which she began over 2 ½ years ago, with over five hundred group members. She speaks to members daily online and privately, helping them navigate the horrors of a misunderstood disease with no cure.
While she battles her disease she is doing battle with alberta disability appeal (she is one of the 90% that are rejected on their first application), as well as waiting to see the only lyme specialist in alberta…...the current wait is 3 years. She has been on the list for 14 months. She is Also waiting/working on other income/housing supports offered to low income calgarians. Many appeals and appts are in her future.
Jill currently uses calgary food banks on a weekly basis to feed herself and her dogs. She is unable to purchase medicine for herself or her dogs…..all four have chronic health issues, and one has brain damage and require medication for life.
Support would mean emotional, physical, and spiritual security. And would ensure that jill has the means to fight to remain in her home and continue to do battle with the government and court systems which will eventually allow her long term financial stability.
- Faye Sawatzky
- Robert Colbourne
- Paul Michaud
- Ramona Smith
Organizer and beneficiary
Lara Ilsabe Kay