On his effort to raise awareness of Lyme disease

Craig: Risk and consequence is an excellent topic and on a more practical note, you’re an ambassador for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and lets just touch on that because it is a really important topic.

Elet: Yeah, absolutely. [00:24:00] I’ve been working with the Bay Area Lyme Foundation for the last several years. Their mission is just to raise awareness of this bacterial infectious disease.

Craig: Lyme disease, right?

Elet: Lyme disease and be able to create opportunities for research to find a workable cure and to possibly create a vaccine or something of the sort. That’s kind of the science side. What I’ve been doing with them is just trying to get people aware of the fact that this is a very real disease. It’s [00:24:30] tough because it’s not a visible disease.

Craig: But it is practically endemic on [crosstalk 00:24:37].

Elet: Absolutely and especially in the region where I come from in Appalachia

Craig: [crosstalk 00:24:41].

Elet: Especially there are some places in western Pennsylvania where they’ve done tick studies and they find 85 to 95 percent of the ticks in the area are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. I was diagnosed with it when I was 23 years old, I had had it for several years at that point without knowing it and [00:25:00] just attributed the symptoms that I had to other lifestyle factors. I was an athlete, you’re always feeling tired, you’re always feeling achy and who would have thought that was an actual thing.

Craig: Paralyzation is not normal, right?

Elet: Yeah, that was exactly what happened to me as I woke up one morning and the left half of my face was paralyzed. It’s called Bell’s palsy, it’s a common symptom of more long term infections of Lyme disease when it begins to affect the nervous system.

Speaking of risk and consequences and being selective about the challenges I undertake as earlier when I said, [00:25:30] we have a finite amount of energy, as I have a very finite amount of energy and when I reach that threshold, it’s done. I’ll begin to have these weird muscle spasms and cramps, my nervous system just gets fried and gets beat up. We might go have a training session together and you know– you’re a few years older than me– You’ll feel it for a few days and I’ll feel it for a week and a half and I’m supposed to be this big strong great machine athlete, but I got to be really smart about the way I [00:26:00] approach things because what do I want to spend my energy on.

What’s gonna help me grow, I have to be selective. That’s also helped me be very, very intentional and particular about the way that I train so that I can continue to progress with a disease that puts the majority of people to bed and kills some people.

Craig: Specifically with Lyme disease, I’ve never actually been tested for it but there is a test for it, you can simply go and have the blood test done and as long as it’s been long enough, it doesn’t give you a positive right away. [00:26:30] It has to have been in you for a certain period of time before the blood test is successful.

Elet: Well and its also difficult because the blood test is rated at about 66 percent accuracy, compare that too other major diseases, HIV AIDs, Hepatitis, all of these things 99.9 percent accuracy. There is one out of every three chances that you just get a false positive or negative. You just don’t know and its also, it’s a two tier test. If you don’t come up positive on the first one, they don’t run the second one ’cause it costs money. It’s [00:27:00] a tough system, it’s not a really functional test and it also doesn’t mean that you’re currently producing the antibodies necessary to come up positive on that. It’s really complicated scenario.

There are a lot of people, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation being one of them and the one that I work with, who are really pushing the research side of things to help people to be able to get access to a better test, a usable cure, and just really, really pushing some creative ideas in that direction.

For me on the day to day level, taking risk and [00:27:30] consequence, I’ve just got to be practical about what I do and know that, “Oh, okay, this works for me, this doesn’t.” Keep track of my diet real well, train like an athlete, which is an important topic for parkour people to begin to explore. Then manage the symptoms as they do present themselves. For me, it’s mostly nervous system based, which comes with some chronically tight muscles and the lower threshold for overuse injuries.

A lot [00:28:00] for me on a day to day is just taking care of myself and that’s why I’m really focused on the subjective experience of a lot of this is, how do I make this feel good because I don’t usually feel good. The majority of the time in fact I’m in physical pain. I feel great when I exercise though so how can I exercise more often, ’cause if I do too much then I can’t work out for the rest of the week. How can I balance it so I can do it every day so I can enjoy the feeling of my physical body every day ’cause that’s not something I get.