Editorial: Kieran Jordan keeps at it, 'smiling through the tears'

I watched a wonderful video on Facebook that showed our friend Kieran Jordan dancing in full form at last month’s 25th annual Catskills Irish Festival. I was really pleased to see it and felt very encouraged to see how she had responded to her illness.

Kieran, of Lower Mills, has been living with Lyme disease for two years now. She first fell ill in the summer of 2017, feeling lethargic and without much energy, but the cause went undiagnosed and untreated. After ten months, a holistic medical provider identified it as Lyme, but a lot of damage had been done. Since most health insurance plans do not cover Lyme disease, helpful friends formed a GoFundMe page, raising more than $39,000 for Kieran.

“GoFundMe saved our life,” she says, as she has spent all but $6,000 in treating the disease. “It’s going on almost two years now and it’s my full-time job, whether I like it or not. When people see me now they say, ‘Well, you look great,’ but people see what they want to see. I have to be careful to not just put a positive spin on things. It’s been a long and difficult trial but not everyone has the kind of community support that I have.”

At the first signs of the illness, she saw several medical professionals, she says. “The reality of this disease is that for ten months they missed the diagnosis. They didn’t even test me for Lyme.

“I’m making progress and I’m thrilled but there are still some symptoms. It is better than a year ago; I am getting some strength back. I wasn’t able to perform all the things I wanted to do [in the Catskills], but I was able to teach, and I’m pushing myself.”

Kieran is now seeing two physicians who specialize in Lyme and babesia, a parasite transmitted by ticks that infects red blood cells. But she’s angry that the health care system is so far behind in dealing with Lyme.

“It’s not a rare disease, it’s not just something you get on the Cape, or in the mountains or in the woods,” she said. “Lyme disease is not addressed by our healthcare system, our insurance system. People are lucky if they are aware of a tick bite or if they get a bull’s-eye rash – 50 percent of people don’t ever get a rash and therefore they don’t see what it is. By the time it’s diagnosed late, it has already burrowed down into the system.”

In a Facebook post about her performance in the Catskill, Kieran told her friends: “I can see that I AM healing. But I’m sometimes smiling through the tears!”

– Ed Forry