Lyme disease comes from ticks, nasty bugs that bite people and pets in wooded areas or hitch a ride on pants or fur from hiking trails. We may not often think of red-carpet celebrities when we think of woodland excursions or camping with our pets, but the truth is, everyone is susceptible to Lyme disease, including famous folk.
This Lyme Disease Awareness Month, we’re spreading the word about this little-known disease and it’s far-reaching effects.
Check out these 10 celebrities you didn’t know had Lyme disease.
1. Amy Tan
The author of The Joy Luck Club‘s experience with Lyme has been harrowing indeed. From being unable to focus enough to read a page, let alone write, to having hallucinations, Tan’s symptoms are unfortunately telling of what can happen if Lyme goes undiagnosed for too long.
Tan has been managing and treating the disease since 2003, but she now lives with epilepsy and with the knowledge that a return of more severe symptoms is always possible.
2. Jamie Lynn Sigler
The “Sopranos” actress contracted Lyme in 2008 in New Jersey and was hospitalized when her legs became paralyzed.
“It was such a life-altering experience,” she said. “I realized it could all be taken away in a moment.” Sigler was treated with antibiotics and recovered completely.
3. George W. Bush
Even being the President of the United States doesn’t scare ticks. George W. Bush was treated for Lyme in 2006 after getting bitten by a tick during a bike ride. He noticed a rash and was treated, and had no recurrence or symptoms, according to a White House spokesman at the time.
4. Parker Posey
Posey was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2009, and had to bow out of a stage production of This to recuperate. She ended up using a holistic approach to recover, saying, ”The first round of antibiotics did not destroy all the bacteria and I made a decision not to take them anymore and instead approach it purely holistically.”
5. Daryl Hall
In 2005, the pop music duo Hall and Oates had to cancel performances when Daryl Hall started to undergo the flu-like symptoms of Lyme disease. When he was diagnosed, he says, “I remember thinking, ‘OK, now I know what I have; I have Lyme disease! Huh, that doesn’t sound so serious; now I just need to get rid of it.’ Let me tell you… I had no idea.”
He now must continually manage the disease, and says, “Sometimes it doesn’t affect me at all, but then it comes back in phases.” He says that he gets “something called aherxheimer reaction, which is sort of a roving group of symptoms. It affects different people in different ways and it even affects me in different ways each time I get it.”
6. Alice Walker
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple self-diagnosed her “physically debilitating” symptoms as Lyme disease, and she says the “frightening” experience taught her that life is “incredibly precious and wonderful.”
7. Alec Baldwin
Actor Alec Baldwin has discussed his experience with Lyme disease with the NY Times, and said that his symptoms return annually: “At the same time of year, I get really tired.”
8. Peter Sarsgaard
The actor contracted Lyme in 2007, when he and Maggie Gyllenhaal were in Martha’s Vineyard. Sarsgaard had to leave the island for a week to recuperate.
9. Richard Gere
Richard Gere had to delay filming Autumn in New York with Winona Ryder when he contracted Lyme. “This is one scary disease,” he said. “I felt as though every ounce of strength had gone from my body. Within hours I could barely lift my head from the pillow.” He was diagnosed and treated quickly.
10. Rebecca Wells
The author of Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood discusses her experience with Lyme on her website, saying that the disease has serious neurological symptoms for her and “affects the way I think, move, write, read, eat—every aspect of my life.”
She had a difficult time getting the correct diagnosis, as have many Lyme patients: “Years went by in which I did not know what was wrong with me. I was told maybe I had a brain tumor, perhaps epilepsy.” It was her 13th doctor who finally found the correct diagnosis.
*Sources: Huffington Post, CNN, Byliner.com, NJ Star-Ledger, PR Newswire, People, EOnline, Healthline, Democracy Now, NY Times, OKMagazine, Examiner, Lymediseaseguide.org, RebeccaWellsBooks.com *Photo Credits Amy Tan: By David Sifry George W. Bush: By White house photo by Eric Draper Parker Posey: By Arnold Gatilao from Fremont, CA, USA Daryl Hall: By Gary Harris Alice Walker: By Virginia DeBolt Peter Sarsgaard: Trogdor88 Richard Gere: By spaceodissey from Parma, Italy