Since she began her intense battle against Lyme disease, which involved incredible pain for over a year, months of tests, and an eight-week stay in Pennsylvania receiving treatment, Woodbury resident Holly Zelinksy made it her mission to inform others about the dangers of ticks and the spread of Lyme disease.
Zelinsky has been working to raise awareness about Lyme disease in Minnesota through the creation of Lyme Awareness MN, a nonprofit organization that raises funds and awareness for Lyme disease in the state. In 2017, the organization held a Lyme awareness gala and a walk at the Mall of America. From there, Zelinksy began her current work, which is putting two children’s books about how to keep safe from ticks into elementary school libraries across the state.
“As soon as I was diagnosed, I felt a strong responsibility to do something about this; to raise awareness about Lyme in hopes of preventing others from going through this,” Zelinksy says.
In the summer of 2015, Zelinksy began to feel pain in her fingers and wrist when she bent them; a few weeks later, she was unable to get out of bed and couldn’t perform everyday activities like driving, showering and working. She began to have muscle spasms and intense pain, and experienced cognitive symptoms like short-term memory loss.
“I went from being a very busy business owner, wife and mom of four grown kids to someone who suddenly sat in a chair surrounded by pillows every day, not speaking,” Zelinksy says.
She started the long and grueling process of testing to find out what was wrong, and it ended up taking nuclear bone scans, a bone marrow biopsy, MRIs, CT scans, hundreds of tubes of blood, 17 doctors and 13 months before she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease. She started three different antibiotics and underwent treatment for eight weeks in Pennsylvania, where she spent 90 minutes in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber five days a week.
It was intense. The disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, and doctors have a difficult time agreeing on symptoms and treatments. To that end, Zelinsky wants to equip patients with knowledge, and she’s hoping that two children’s books will help do that. Nick the No Good, Icky Tick, by Karen Gloyer, tells the story from the tick’s perspective. Grace and Scout, by Lauren Lovejoy, focuses on how to support a friend who is suffering from Lyme disease. Zelinsky is working to put a copy of each book into schools across the state.
The author of Nick the No Good, Icky Tick “told me that she heard from a dad recently. He was standing in line at the grocery store, holding his daughter. She exclaimed, ‘Daddy, you have Nick the No Good, Icky Tick on your neck!’ He was able to remove the tick much quicker, because she saw it and told him about it,” Zelinksy says. She adds, “One of the best ways to slow the spread of Lyme disease is to educate children. These lighthearted, beautifully illustrated, and engaging books are the perfect way to do that.”
To learn more or to sponsor an elementary school’s book collection, click here.