May 29, 2018
“You just call on me… when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on.”
– “Lean on Me,” composed by Bill Withers.
One of our town’s most treasured artists, the Irish dancer Kieran Jordan, has discovered the meaning of that sentiment from Bill Withers. But it’s a lesson she learned the hard way.
Kieran has been struggling since last July with an ailment that leaves her tired, listless, and with little energy – and for a performer of her caliber, the experience has been devastating.
Only a few of her friends knew of her problem, which had gone undiagnosed since last summer. Then early last month, she took to social media with a sad message: “I got sick last July with a crushing flu-like illness, and I have not been right since. Debilitating fatigue, scary low blood sugar episodes every day, chronic sleep problems, day chills and night sweats, nausea and low appetite, aches, tingling, twitching, shooting pains, anxiety/palpitations, and more.
“If you haven't seen me around much, this is why! I've had to cancel or turn down so much of my work, and have missed so many friend and family experiences and the activities I love. I've now seen eight doctors, two acupuncturists, a therapist, a herbalist, and an energy healer.”
Finally, in late April, she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.
“I was never aware of a tick bite last summer, but ticks are everywhere in the Northeast, and they are so tiny — many people are never aware of being bitten. I never had the classic Lyme ‘bull's eye’ rash. Many don't. My story is not unique — Lyme is often missed and misdiagnosed — and I've been dismissed or misdirected by doctors for the past 9 months.”
After the diagnosis, she began treatment at a specialist clinic in Cohasset, and is now six weeks into antibiotic treatment.
“The holistic doctor and, finally, the ‘Lyme-literate’ nurse practitioner I have seen don't take health insurance. The out-of-pocket costs have been staggering. This whole year has been truly a nightmare — physically, emotionally, and financially!”
Kieran now says she is “hoping for the best possible recovery. Late-Lyme detection can make the disease difficult to treat and heal, but I am hopeful. Thanks to everyone close to me who has been a huge support.”
When the word got out about her situation, Kieran’s friends immediately rallied to show their support, with her sister and brother artists setting up a GoFundMe page – Kieran Jordan’s Healing Fund – and pledging to lend her a hand while telling her to lean on them.
“Kieran and her husband Vincent are both self-employed and an illness like this brings overwhelming financial stress,” the organizers wrote. “They have made incredible contributions to our flourishing Boston music/dance/art scene and it is times like these when we, as a community, are able to give back and help ease the burden.
“Funds raised will go directly towards recouping out-of-pocket medical costs and lost income, and for continuing expenses, including non-covered doctors’ visits, lab tests, and supportive therapies for Lyme Disease treatment.”
In just 11 days, 287 donations totaling over $ 20,000 were pledged, and the fund continues to grow.
"I am trying to find the words to say thank you for all the support and generosity coming my way in the last few days,” Kieran said. “It is truly overwhelming. This has been a very hard year, and one of the worst parts has been the isolation (spending so much time at doctors, or Googling, trying to figure out what was wrong with me, or just at home feeling sick) and not being able to participate much in my community or the activities I love.
“My body and spirit have been pretty beaten down by all of this. Thank you for showing your love so tremendously. I am feeling it, and Vincent and I are both feeling brighter and encouraged and relieved by your amazing support."
Speaking with me on Memorial Day weekend, Kieran said she still hopes to be strong enough to travel with her dance partner, Kevin Doyle, to Miltown Malaby, Co. Clare, to participate in the 46th Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2018, a legendary Summer School with instrument and dance classes lectures, workshops, and recitals that runs July 7-15. She and Kevin are scheduled to teach four afternoon classes that week, and give two performances. With just five weeks before the school begins, Kieran says she is unsure if she will be able to fulfill the commitment. “It’s overwhelming, a situation I have never been in before,” she said.
Even so, she says, she has already booked her flight, and although she might have to change to a later date, she is optimistic that the treatments will enable her to return to Ireland and resume her teaching and performing career.
Contributions to the Kieran Jordan GofundMe site may be made online at https://www.gofundme.com/kieran-jordan039s-healing-fund