Press Release: Announcing the Launch of Our New Website

Oakland CA Oct 89

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October 13-14, 1989 – Oakland, Calif. Borrelioses West ‘89.

This was the first tick-borne conference in California. Presenters included tick-borne experts from the NIH, CDC, multiple people from the Calif. Dept. of Health, and many more. This conference was requested by LDF Board member Dr. Paul Lavoie, a practicing California rheumatologist, who was busy being overwhelmed by Lyme patients in his private practice. Dr. Lavoie was a visionary and was the first person to treat patients long-term due to Borrelia’s very slow reproduction rate. Topics covered relapsing fever-like illness, pathology, neuropsychiatric manifestations, ophthalmologic symptoms, Western chronic Borreliosis, microbiologic observations, Bb serology in MS patients, treatment of Late Lyme Borreliosis & early clinical Lyme Borreliosis in Missouri, urine antigen measurements, and failure of published antibiotic regiments in chronic Lyme.

After flying out from the East Coast, Tom and Karen decided to stay and see the sights for a few days. While Karen feared being in an earthquake, she agreed with Tom … what could happen in just a few days? Nothing, right? However, on October 17, 1989, at 5:04pm while they were out in a rental car driving around San Francisco, the overhead wires started swinging around like jump ropes and the facades on the front of building starting to fall off. Even their car was thrown around like it was on ice. The radio went off the air. So, Karen, Tom, and their 4-year old multi-handicapped son drove around looking for a phone booth to call her parents to let them know she was OK and ask if they knew what was going on. Karen found 1 phone and it was working! She called home and her parents were frantic. Her mother said there was a major earthquake, 2 bridges had collapsed, 63 were dead, about 4,000 were injured, and 3,000 – 12,000 were homeless. The highest number of fatalities were in Oakland.

Karen and Tom lacked a feeding tube for Jamie, lacked food and water, had no diapers nor change of clothes, and the city was on fire. Things were exploding. No streetlights were working. The sun went down. Karen decided to follow the sound of ambulances and eventually arrived at a hospital. Tom parked the car and went inside to seek help. Tom encountered a mother holding her dead child. The mother was frantically seeking help from anyone who would examine the 5-year-old for signs of life. Unfortunately, the child died when a ceiling fell on him. By some miracle, LDF Board member, Dr. Paul Lavoie was in that hospital! He was sitting at his desk in case someone needed help. Paul gathered up the necessities and took the group to his home, which was across the only bridge that was still useable. Paul’s wife made up extra beds, gave the adults dinner, while Dr. Lavoie got food into Jamie’s stomach. Karen called home and let her parents know they were OK. Karen had tickets to return home the next day on the first flight out. The airport had collapsed, and a runway had buckled. Karen found out that were lucky that the flight used the only non-damaged runway and that the relevant part of the airport that was still intact. Dr. Lavoie and Tom took the car to their hotel, which was declared condemned, and was roped off with police tape… Paul and Tom snuck up to the room, shoved items into whatever bags they could find and got out. Paul drove them to the airport and took the rental car back to the rental office. Karen and Tom took pictures of San Francisco/Oakland burning, as they flew away, safe, and sound! Another bump in the road that they were blessed to have survived!

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