'Once Bitten Twice Shy’, a new song released by Westport woman Elaine Griffin, could on first hearing easily be mistaken for another lyrical love lament.
While the aptly named song is something that is very close to the heart of the woman, it is much more than a yarn about lost love.
It is instead the first step of an ambitious and creative campaign by Ms Griffin to raise awareness about the potentially serious risks associated with a simple bug bite.
Ms Griffin suffers from Lyme disease, an illness passed to humans when they are bitten by an infected tick. The condition has wreaked havoc on the musician and artist’s health and seen her travel the globe in search of answers to her litany of health problems over almost 25 years.
Lyme disease attacks connective tissues in the body and, if left untreated, causes serious damage to multiple body systems and organs, sometimes proving fatal.
However, the risk of contracting the condition can be greatly reduced if an infected tick is removed early and thoroughly. If Lyme disease is contracted, early treatment can drastically limit damage to the sufferer’s health.
In September, Ms Griffin first spoke to the Mayo Advertiser about life with Lyme disease and her concern and distress over the lack of awareness about Lyme disease in Ireland. ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ is her first step to raise the profile on this little known illness and how to prevent it.
“I’m trying to piggyback this important information on the back of a song, which is something that is more accessible to a broader range of people than handing out flyers,” she explained. “There is a very poor understanding of this disease in Ireland. ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ is a cautionary tale of contracting Lyme disease and the signs and symptoms one might expect to experience when bitten by the bug.”
Ms Griffin, who is currently undergoing treatment in California, said she was “heartbroken” last year when she finally learned that her health problems could be traced back to a long forgotten tick bite, probably in her childhood, and that much of her suffering could very well have been prevented had there been more awareness and treatment options available for the disease.
“The bottom line is that ultimately, yes, I am doing this to help raise funds for my own treatment, but, more importantly, to get the word out so that others don’t have to suffer the same fate,” she said.
Over the next two years, Ms Griffin hopes to develop a short film and an art exhibition on the condition, if her health allows.
The ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ CD pack includes lots of information on Lyme disease, Lyme disease prevention, and even a handy tick remover.
Ten per cent of the proceeds from the sale of the CD will go to Tick Talk Ireland, a charity dedicated to Lyme disease awareness and prevention.
For more information, to make a donation or to purchase the CD, visit www.elainefightslyme.com