High heels can get uncomfortable, but Jenny Gold misses the pain of walking around in them all day. The soreness was minuscule compared to her current agony, likely brought on by a tick while Gold was visiting Mexico over twenty years ago with college friends.
"You have to have a positive attitude with Lyme disease, because the people that don't will not make it very long. There's a lot of suicides because of the pain," she explains. "Some people with heart problems don't make it. So many different things can happen to your body with it."
Gold didn't come to Colorado in 2009 as a medical marijuana refugee. She'd already been diagnosed with Lyme disease a decade before, and the neurological problems she suffered grew worse in this state's altitude, affecting Gold's motor skills as well as draining her energy and finances. Traditional treatment wasn't keeping up.
A marketer by trade, Gold had started taking on cannabis clients in 2014, and they began suggesting other treatment options. After she tried a THC-infused hard candy at a work event, her friends noticed a pep in her step, and she now uses them and CBD products for occasional relief. But cannabis edibles can't cure Lyme disease: Gold eventually found herself using a walker and was forced to move into a new apartment after falling and landing in the emergency room last month.
"I ended up in the emergency room, and then they moved me into an area with people who've had strokes, broken pelvises and hip replacements. People like myself, who aren't strong enough to live alone," Gold says. "This is what happens with Lyme patients. It's hard to live with, because you don't feel like you're living a normal life. Everything can change in a heartbeat."
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The proud Michigan State Spartan and former real estate agent had wanted to move to California or Arizona this year, and she'd start showing homes in her heels again. After being forced to move into a more mobile-friendly home, though, she's now stuck in Colorado for another year.
But Gold has friends — a lot of them. She just needed to ask for help.
Since starting a GoFundMe page seven months ago, Gold has raised almost $25,000 to help with health-care costs that have risen to over $94,000. She also began using her marketing talent and connections to organize dinners and auctions to raise more funds, and has secured around forty sponsors to donate money and resources at various events. The majority of them are in the cannabis industry.
"If you spread love and really believe in people, they're going to give back to you. It sucks, because they've seen me go downhill over the years. When I put that GoFundMe up, I didn't want to do it. But when I finally did, my friends just asked why I didn't sooner," she remembers. "My support system here is strong. That's my canna-fam."
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Cannabis and hemp companies such as Incredibles, Veedverks, Evolab, Flora's Mercantile, Steepfuze and Stashlogix, among dozens of others, have donated products for auctions and goodie bags, Gold says, while individuals in the cannabis community continue to offer aid through a variety of outlets. Gold's friends are helping her host another fundraising dinner in June, with a silent auction and two different dinners — one infused with THC and one without.
"It's really hard for me to ask for help, but it's been made very clear that I do need some help. I'd love to help other people, but right now I need people just to come over and help me unpack in my new house," Gold says. "I just want to be as active as I was. I want to show those 20,000-square-foot estates again in my heels, but it's just not happening, and sometimes you have to learn to live with it."
But living with Lyme doesn't mean you have to let it define you, Gold adds. May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and she's not going to let her recent struggles stop her from spreading the word. Gold will appear on a podcast with Veedverks later this month to talk about a disease that scientists believe affects more than 300,000 people per year.
"My brain is so full of plaque, my doctors in Los Angeles say I shouldn't be walking or talking at all," she says. "But I can still talk. I'm a chatterer, actually."