S E C T I O N
Stories about people and events in the community. AL
■ May 2, 2012
C A L E N DA R 2 5 | R E A L E S TAT E 2 7 | C L A S S I F I E D S 3 4
When Lyme disease becomes a nightmare Local residents tell of years of elusive diagnoses and painful symptoms By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac
herry Cagan of Portola Valley says she nearly died when she ended up in the emergency room with the systemic MRSA staph infection last year. After seeing “maybe 50 doctors” for a long list of symptoms that included hip pain, arm pain, numbness in the foot, fatigue, sleeplessness, brain fog, and decreased lung capacity, she finally received a diagnosis that had eluded her for seven years: Lyme disease. Kathleen O’Rourke of Woodside has her own story of living with Lyme disease for seven years. Her symptoms have ranged from vertigo to dizziness, irritability, blurry vision, apnea, heart palpitations, joint pain, neuropathy in her feet, and tinnitus. Their friend, Bonnie Crater, doesn’t have Lyme, but says she grew alarmed when yet another mother in their circle, Laure Kastanis of Portola Valley, “was pretty sick” with the disease. Last fall Ms. Crater and a mutual friend, Gayle Collat, started meeting monthly with the three Lyme patients “to try to understand the disease better.” They have gone on to found the Bay Area Lyme Fund (BayAreaLyme.org) to help finance research and innovative therapies. They either serve on or advise the board along with Ms. Cagan’s husband, Laird, Wendy Adams, Stephen Marra and Kate Misskelley. Their new office is at 888 Portola Road, Suite A7, in Portola Valley. This is the time of year when the risk of getting infected is higher because ticks are more active when it’s cool and damp. Dr. Raphael Stricker, a Lyme expert in San Francisco who says he treats 2,000 patients from all over the Bay Area and beyond, predicts “it’s going to be a bad year” here due to the late rain. Dr. Stricker’s patients come from as far away as Australia and Europe. He says he thinks the number of Lyme cases is steadily increasing worldwide because animals are spreading the disease where it N
■ The Bay Area Lyme Fund is funding a Stanford study of ticks found in Woodside and Portola Valley. Volunteers are needed to collect ticks on May 5 so they can be tested for infections. To sign up contact bonnie@ bayarealyme.org or call (650) 530-2439. ■ The group is sponsoring a fundraiser featuring polo, kids’ games and pony rides at a luncheon and auction on May 27 at Menlo Circus Club in Atherton.
Photo by Kate Daly
Sherry Cagan, who is hooked up to an IV for five to six hours a day, at her Portola Valley home with her husband Laird.
wasn’t before, and people are encroaching upon the animals’ territory. Lyme is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which in California is transmitted by infected Western black-legged ticks that feed on gray squirrels, mice, dusky-footed woodrats, birds, lizards, deer, and sometimes humans. In many cases, tick bites can go undetected, because in the nymph state, ticks are as small as a poppy seed and hard to see. One telltale sign of Lyme is a bull’seye rash developing soon after a bite, but that only happens maybe 30 percent of the time, Dr. Stricker says. Another early sign is flu-like symptoms. If caught within weeks of infection, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. A delay in treatment could lead to a more complicated form of chronic Lyme and even death, he says. According to the San Mateo County Health System, 3 to 5 percent of black-
legged tick nymphs and adults test positive for the bacteria in the county, yet no cases have been reported of humans’ contracting Lyme in the county in 2010, 2011, or in 2012 to date. Dr. Stricker says San Mateo County is “typical of most counties in the state” where the numbers reflect an “under representation.” He estimates nine out of 10 cases of Lyme don’t meet the criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are therefore “thrown out” rather than reported. The CDC tracks Lyme in all 50 states and reported 126 confirmed cases and three probable cases in California in 2011. CDC’s website describes Lyme as “the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States.” Ms. Cagan said she thinks thousands of people may be suffering from Lyme in the Bay Area. Many may be like her and not know whether they have Lyme because
the disease can take months to manifest and tends to mimic other illnesses such as Bells palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Diagnosis can be tricky due to the nature of the disease. The bacteria enter the blood and burrow into tissue, attacking different parts of the body at different times, undermining the immune system, and inviting other opportunistic health issues to arise. There are several Lyme tests available, but none is considered 100 percent reliable, Dr. Stricker says. In Ms. Cagan’s case, she remembers working outside on the family’s property back in 2005 and a day or so later, finding a tiny tick embedded in her neck. Weeks later she landed in bed for 10 days with severe flu-like symptoms. She then developed pains and other problems that led her to consult dozens of doctors. “Before I was diagnosed with Lyme, I was told I had everything from MS to cancer,” and that she needed surgery, she says. Initially, she took oral antibiotics. After a relapse, she ended up on an IV. Since October she has been hooked up to it for five to six hours a day. She just recently started feeling better, she says, but still relies heavily on her husband to help care for their children. She calls him her “rock.” Now in her 50s, Ms. Cagan wants to put this “personal nightmare and family nightmare” behind her. “I pray to get my life back.” In Ms. O’Rourke’s case, she doesn’t recall being bitten by a tick in 2005, but remembers doing a lot of gardening at their home in the Woodside Glens, where the front yard was “a regular thoroughfare of deer.” She was in her 30s, yet felt sick, tired, achy, irritable, and tingly, “like my skin was going to explode.” She tested positive for Lyme as well as two other tick-borne diseases, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. After three years of treatment she says, “things are so much better than they were.” Her son, Louis Sheridan, developed his own symptoms at age 9, soon after the family moved near Skyline Boulevard several years ago. “He had a tick on his tummy that the dog brought in,” Ms. O’Rourke says. He was complaining that his feet felt like lead bricks. Doctors checked him for apnea and adenoid problems, and eventually diagnosed him with Lyme. After one and a half years of taking antibiotics, “he is completely great,” she says. After the family’s move, his little sister, Hannah, complained of ocular migraines, and she missed six weeks of See LYME, page 23
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C O M M U N I T Y
David Ramadanoff and Master Sinfonia
Present an all Beethoven Concert Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major Akimi Fukuhara, soloist
Tickets: Gen Admission $20 Seniors (60+)
Under 18 FREE!
Symphony No. 3 in E-ﬂat major “Eroica”
Saturday, May 5th at 8:00 pm Valley Presbyterian Church 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley Free reception follows concert
This ad sponsored by Ginny Kavanaugh and Joe Kavanaugh of Coldwell Banker, Portola Valley. Visit them at www.thekavanaughs.com
Open Studio benefit “Punakaiki” by photographer Frances Freyberg is one of the recent works that will be included in the Silicon Valley Open Studio from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5-6 at 856 Partridge Ave. in Menlo Park, as well as on May 19-20 at the same location. All profits from Ms. Freyberg’s May 5-6 sales will support Mission Hospice’s hospice house project. The exhibit will include photos from her travels to more than 60 countries, including a recent trip to New Zealand. Other Peninsula artists exhibiting at 856 Partridge Ave. include Kim Holl, Lynn Montoya, Julie Munger Seelos and Alice Weil. The event is part of the 26th annual Silicon Valley Open Studios, where hundreds of artists open their studios to the public during May.
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school. She has shown sensitivity to black mold, but tested negative for Lyme. Based on her family and friends’ experiences, Ms. O’Rourke is concerned about the prevalence of Lyme in the area. “I worry about all the gardeners and stable hands who have no idea they’re coming in contact with it.” Steve Gray lives down the hill in Woodside, but traces his Lyme infection to Half Moon Bay. Seven years ago his dogs came back from a walk there and must have picked up some “hitchhikers” because several days later he found a tick hiding in his belly button. Two days later he was hospitalized with anaphylactic shock for a suspected food allergy that hasn’t troubled him since. Months went by and he started feeling tired and developed a limp. He had three blood tests done, but it wasn’t until IGeneX Inc., a medical laboratory in Palo Alto, tested him that he was diagnosed with Lyme in 2008. He also tested positive for the co-infection, babesiois. “I’ve been feeling like I have
MS, ALS, muscle spasms, and jerks,” Mr. Gray says. He has turned to several infectious disease specialists including Dr. Steven Harris in Redwood City, who, he says, favors antibiotics and alternative approaches such as dietary changes. In his 60s, Mr. Gray keeps physically fit, drinks quinine and filtered water, and now follows a diet free of gluten, sugar, dairy and red meat. Despite all the clean living, he says, his health care costs have gone up to over $800 a month since his diagnosis. Funding research
The Bay Area Lyme Fund is hoping to provide people like Mr. Gray with help down the line. The group is funding research at Stanford to design a transdermal patch that could potentially kill off the bacteria. Another resource for Lyme patients is the Mid Peninsula Lyme Disease Support Group. Facilitator Scott Forsgren says 15 to 20 people usually attend on the second Tuesday of every month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Room E at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. Ms. Cagan went to one meeting and says after seeing people
shaking in wheel chairs, and hearing stories about losing homes to pay for treatments, “I got in my car and I bawled.” She says some drugs can cost $10,000 a month, and aren’t approved by insurance companies because the generally accepted protocol for treating Lyme is a short course of antibiotics. Her personal saga makes her determined to help spread the word about Lyme prevention. Lymedisease.org encourages people to avoid going where ticks like to hang out, in leaf-littered places, tall grasses, stumps and trunks. To prevent tick bites, the advice is to wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and pants that are tucked in and treated with pesticides. As an alternative, Theresa Brown of Woodside swears by the lightweight finely meshed insect protection clothing she bought online: a hooded sweatshirt and pants made by Bug Out. Frequent body checks are suggested in tick country. If a tick is attached the best way to remove it is to pull straight back with tweezers. Disinfect the bite area, and keep the tick in a moist plastic bag to send to a tick-testing lab as soon as possible. The county offers that service. A
Sunday, May 6th at 2:30 pm Los Altos United Methodist Church 655 Magdalena (at Foothill), Los Altos Free reception at intermission
PORTOLA VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT 4575 Alpine Road Portola Valley, CA 94028 NOTICE INVITING PROPOSALS FOR VENDED MEALS 1. Notice: Notice is hereby given that the Board of Trustees of the Portola Valley School District herein referred to as “District”, is requesting proposals for vended meals for the lunch programs at Ormondale and Corte Madera schools. No offer of intent should be construed from this legal notice that the District intends to enter into a contract with the interested company for vended meals unless, in the sole opinion of the District, it is in the best interest of the District to do so. The District reserves the right to negotiate ﬁnal contractual terms with the successful company. 2. Submittal: Written proposals must be sealed and ﬁled with the District at the address shown above no later than 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 16, 2012 and will be opened in public at that time. 3. Withdrawal: Companies may not withdraw proposals for a period of sixty (60) days after the date set for opening of proposals. 4. Rejection: The Board of Trustees reserves the right to reject any and all proposals and to waive any irregularity therein. Proposals will be studied and a recommendation will be made to the Board of Trustees at its regular meeting. 5. Questions: Interested companies should direct questions to Mark Bonnett, Interim CBO, at the address shown above or by phone at 650-851-1777, ext. 3009. GOVERNING BOARD OF TRUSTEES PORTOLA VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT
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C O M M U N I T Y
G U I D E TO 2012 S U M M E R C A M P S F O R K I D S
n n o e C c p t i o m n a C Summer 2012
For more information about these camps, see our online directory of camps at http://paloaltoonline.com/biz/summercamps/. To advertise in a weekly directory, contact 650-326-8210 Oshman JCC
Athletics Bald Eagle Camps
Bald Eagle Camps is the only camp Approved by the nationally recognized Positive Coaching Alliance, teaching their principles to every camper through our Certified Coaches. We offer 3 uniquely FUN Summer Camps, each of which exude our encouraging team culture: Non-Traditional Sports Camp (1st-8th), Basketball Camp (3rd-8th), and Leadership Camp (7th-8th only). Come experience our positive atmosphere, great coaching, unique structure, inspiring life message and 5-STAR service. Bald Eagle Camps is guaranteed to be a highlight of your child’s summer. www.baldeaglecamps.com 888-505-2253
California Riding Academy’s Camp Jumps For Joy!
CTC programs provide an enjoyable way for your child to begin learning the game of tennis or to continue developing existing skills. Our approach is to create lots of fun with positive feedback and reinforcement in a nurturing tennis environment. Building self-esteem and confidence through enjoyment on the tennis court is a wonderful gift a child can keep forever! Super Juniors Camps, ages 4 – 6. Juniors Camps, ages 6 - 14. www.alanmargot-tennis.com 650-400-0464
Glenoaks Stables’ Horse Camp Portola Valley Giddy up your summer at Glenoaks Stables’ horse camp. Each full day of equestrian fun includes supervised riding, horsemanship, vaulting, pony games and arts & crafts. 6 one-week sessions. All skill levels welcome, ages 6+. www.glenoaksequestriancenter.com/summercamps.htm
Kim Grant Tennis Academy & Palo Alto/ Summer Camps Menlo Park/Redwood City Fun and Specialized junior camps for Mini (3-5), Beginner, Intermediate 1&2, Advanced and Elite Players. Weekly programs designed by Kim Grant to improve players technique, fitness, agility, mental toughness and all around tennis game. Camps in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City. Come make new friends and have tons of FUN!! www.KimGrantTennis.com 650-752-8061
Nike Tennis Camps
Spring Down Equestrian Center
Spring Down camp teaches basic to advanced horsemanship skills. Ages 6-99 welcome! Daily informative lecture, riding lesson, supervised hands-on skill practice, safety around horses, tacking/untacking of own camp horse, and arts/crafts.
Join us this summer for fantastic and fun filled week with our beautiful horses and ponies! Each day Campers have riding instruction, develop horsemanship skills, create fun crafts and enjoy with our kids’ jump course. In addition, campers learn beginning vaulting, visit our Full Surgical Vet Clinic, and much more! Voted the best horse camp by discerning young campers. Choose English, Western or Cowboy/Cowgirl. Ages 5-15 welcome. Convenient close-in Menlo Park location and online Registration and Payment with either PayPal or Google Checkout. www.CalifiorniaRidingAcademy.com or JumpsForJoy@CaliforniaRidingAcademy.com for more information 650-740-2261
Champion Tennis Camp
Exciting programs for preschool and grades K-12 include swimming, field trips, crafts and more. Enroll your child in traditional camp, or specialty camps like Pirates, Archery, Runway Project, Kid TV and over 25 others!
Dick Gould’s 43rd Annual Stanford Tennis School offers day camps for both juniors a&dults. Weekly junior overnight & extended day camps run by John Whitlinger & Lele Forood. Junior Day Camp run by Brandon Coupe & Frankie Brennan. www.USSportsCamps.com/tennis 1-800-NIKE-CAMP (645-3226)
Stanford Water Polo Camps
Ages 7 and up. New to the sport or have experience, we have a camp for you. Half day or full day option for boys and girls. All the camps offer fundamental skill work, position work, scrimmages and games.
Summer at Saint Francis
Sports & Activity Camp (ages 6-12): This all sports camp provides group instruction in a variety of field, water and court games. Saint Francis faculty and students staff the camp, and the focus is always on fun. The program is dedicated to teaching teamwork, sportsmanship and positive self-esteem. After camp care and swim lessons available.
Summer at Saint Francis
Advanced Sports Camps (5th-9th grades): We offer a wide selection of advanced sports camps designed to provide players with the opportunity to improve both their skill and knowledge of a specific sport. Each camp is run by a Head Varsity Coach at Saint Francis, and is staffed by members of the coaching staff.
YMCA of Silicon Valley
Say hello to summer fun at the YMCA! Choose from enriching day or overnight camps in 35 locations: arts, sports, science, travel, and more. For youth K-10th grade. Includes weekly fieldtrips, swimming and outdoor adventures. Accredited by the American Camp Association. Financial assistance available.
Los Altos/Palo Alto/Menlo Park/
Galileo Learning operates award-winning summer day camps at 31 Bay Area locations. Camp Galileo (pre-K rising 5th graders): Inspires campers to bring their ideas to life through art, science and outdoor activities. Galileo Summer Quest (rising 5th - 8th graders): Campers dive into exciting majors like Chefology and Video Game Design.
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Film: How media misrepresents women “Miss Representation,” a documentary film that explores how the media’s misrepresentation of women and girls has led to underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence, will be shown at the Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton High School at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3. Journalism teacher Betsy Snow and students Anna de Benedictis and Helmi Henkin will introduce the film, which was produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The program, part of M-A High’s Parent Education Series, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served in the center’s foyer from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Visit MissRepresentation.org for more information.
TheatreWorks holds spring surplus sale Artificial Christmas trees, vintage trunks and luggage, wedding dresses, even a Chinese dragon head made of papier mache/Styrofoam, will be for sale from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, May 4, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at 1100 Hamilton Court in Menlo Park. TheatreWorks is purging its costume and props departments and offering a wide variety of items from its 42-year hoard. Prices range from 25 cents for patterned teacups to a Baldwin spinet piano played live on stage going for $500 or best offer. All proceeds will benefit TheatreWorks’ annual operating fund.
Woodside holds May Day Parade Woodside will hold its 90th annual May Day Parade and festival on Saturday, May 5. This year’s theme is “Viva Woodside” as the parade falls on Cinco de Mayo. Steve Frank, assistant principal at Woodside Elementary School, will be this year’s parade grand marshal. The Royal Court, chosen from the kindergarten class at Woodside Elementary, will include King Colin Johnson, Queen Klara HachigianKruetzer, princes George Krikorian and Julian Sheehan, and princesses Madi McCauley and Jaclyn Abbey. The Woodside School PTA will announce the Citizen of the Year, a person in the community who has made significant contributions to the well-being of children. For more information, contact May Day chair Kassia Kingsley at 415-602-8290.