Kurtis Colman: Professional Dancer, Advocate: 'Don’t Give Up without giving it Everything you've Got.'
My name is Kurtis Colman. I’m 23 years old from Windsor, Ontario. Linked with this post is a short documentary I was blessed to be a part of that sheds light on my story. But this story isn’t just mine; this is the story of thousands. Compared to some, my obstacles have been blessings. As much as this has impacted my livelihood this isn’t the darkest side of the Lyme Crimes.
This is a brief story expanding upon the events leading up to what you will see in the documentary attached to this post:
Before becoming ill I was a dancer. I had danced from the age of 7 up to 21 at a high level of athleticism. Competing for 7 years on competitive teams and also participating in a dance program at my high school had me dancing at an average of 30 hours a week. When I would compete it would be a weekend of dancing up to 16 hours, which I gladly went through with energy and bliss.
After high school I moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of furthering my craft, where I would be dancing up to 25 hours a week. In search of obtaining a work visa, I then moved to Toronto where I participated in 5 dance groups. Through my connections I was able to dance for Paula Abdul, be a lead in a music video and dance in the background of an episode of Once Upon a Time. One day while dancing in an intense rehearsal my arm gave out on me, although I was in top physical condition.
Slowly symptoms began appearing and consuming my physical, mental and emotional health. I desperately tried to cling to what I’d loved doing most for 14 years but suddenly didn’t have the energy to even get through an hour rehearsal. With so much anger, confusion and pain, my dance career had ended. I didn’t know what was wrong or if I was developing a mental illness.
I lived in fear of telling people what was really happening to me and slowly disappeared from some of my closest friends at the time. This was a very lonely time in my life. As I looked for answers every way I knew how, with my mother doing the same, I took on a job as a host for a restaurant in Toronto (a very expensive city to live in). One day during a shift suddenly my whole nervous system simultaneously tightened, burned and hurt terribly. I had lost all control of my body and emotions. When I went to the hospital I was stuck in the fetal position crying uncontrollably and was paralyzed. When the doctor saw me he told me to take Advil for back pain, and then dismissed me. This was the last straw. I felt like the only place left to go was home. So, I silently disappeared leaving behind my friends, career, craft and hopes in Toronto. To try and recover, find peace and hopefully… answers.
After moving back in with my parents I began to see a therapist. While no answers came from the health system I knew I had to do something. So I signed myself into a rehabilitation facility, following my therapist’s advice. While finding some mental recovery and grieving my past, I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. After attempting some pain relieving and anti-anxiety medication I found that they only helped with maybe 5% of the symptoms I was experiencing. After completing the program my mother saved my life by finding the real answer to my suffering: Lyme Disease.
After hearing my story a friend of mine who is a film student got a group together to film this documentary for their university class.
I have come across much, much more information and a lot has happened since the filming of this documentary last year. But this would be a much longer story if I shared all of that as well.
One important event I will share is that a fellow advocate, artist and mother of a daughter with Lyme, Donna Y Jacobs and I are collaborating on a show for VOCAL (Voices of Canadians About Lyme) Ottawa and Toronto (Click VOCAL link above for more info). We will be infusing dance, art and spoken word into a story that communicates the current suffering of people with Lyme Disease. It is our dream that we affect people’s hearts to bring much needed change to this systematically ignored pandemic.
Thank you to the Lyme Letters blog for this opportunity. We need blogs like this so much.
To Fellow Lyme Sufferers:
Please stay strong and have hope that things will get better. Because they will. Don’t give up without giving it everything you have, and I promise to do the same. There’s always a way.
To the General Public:
I hope that you educate yourself so that you and your loved ones don’t have to go through what we have. We may put on strong faces but we need your help. We can only do so much, most of our energy is just fighting to at best, have a normal day, at worst, stay alive. Anything you can do to help bring awareness to others is urgently needed.
To the Canadian Health Care System and Government:
Please have compassion for those suffering. We are not your enemies and want what you want: Every Canadian to have the opportunity to live free of health issues. I hope the reign of ignorance, greed and whatever other poor justifications will end soon. There is much work to be done and the sooner the better. The problems continue to grow as the solutions remain hidden. For you and for us, the sooner the better.
I know one day we will see the truly wonderful human beings you really are and you will see the same in us.
Love & Light