Take a taste to help a Visconti family member stricken with Lyme Disease

By: Laura Newell, Of the Telegraph
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What: “A Taste of Visconti’s”
When:  5-9 p.m., Monday, April 1
Where:  Visconti’s Ristorante Folsom, 2700 East Bidwell St., Suite 700, Folsom
Cost: $50
Info and RSVP:  (916) 983-5181

Josie Graziano, a member of the Visconti’s family, was a working mom, an enthusiastic community member and an all-around active woman. But, after suffering from a tick bite, her life turned completely upside-down leaving her with thousands of dollars in medical bills.

In 2007 Graziano, 45, of El Dorado Hills, accompanied her daughter on a field trip to Black Chasm Cavern. Two weeks later, she noticed an itch on the back of her leg that would not go away. She did not have the typical “bulls eye” rash after being bit by the tick, but still knew something was wrong.

“I was suffering from a variety of symptoms including dizziness, a fainting feeling, headaches, overall achiness and other neurological symptoms,” Graziano said. “I went from being an active soccer mom to a dead stop.”

After being misdiagnosed for six months, Graziano eventually went to see a Lyme Disease specialist. She tested positive.

“I was tested three times by doctors through basic testing of Lyme. All three tests were negative,” she said. “Through a mutual friend, I was sent to a Lyme-literate doctor who tested me through the Igenex Lab in Palo Alto. Through the specialty lab testing, I was tested positive for Babesia and Lyme Disease.”

Graziano said the diseases affected her brain causing a variety of neurological symptoms including anxiety and a 100-pound weight gain.

Graziano had to stop working at her family’s restaurant, Visconti’s Ristorante in Folsom. She also can not attend family vacations and activities. She said she is virtually homebound.

“It has put a lot of stress on my husband and children – leaving them to pick-up all of my responsibilities on top of their own,” she said. “My children have had to grow up faster than they should have by taking on my responsibilities. There has been a lot of stress on my family.”

Graziano describers herself as a giver, not a receiver, so for her to be dependable on others to maintain her everyday tasks, she has also endured a high amount of stress and guilt from her condition.

The family is also suffering financially as they are buried in medical bills.

“We have accumulated thousands of dollars in debt,” she said. “Many of our Lyme Disease bills are not covered by medical insurance. Lyme Disease is so controversial, most of the treatments are not covered by medical insurance.”

During the past six years, Graziano has also discovered that her children and husband have developed Lyme Disease. According to Graziano, it is unclear how her family members developed the disease.

Sal, 48, and their children, ranging in ages 10-19, have developed different forms of Lyme Disease than Graziano.

“Lyme Disease devastates the entire family affects people differently,” she said. “I want to bring awareness to this devastating disease. People are being misled that Lyme disease is not in our area. If anyone has experienced unexplained debilitating symptoms, please get tested through a Lyme literate doctor. Be proactive for your health and wellness.”

Graziano said her faith and strong family unit allows her to stay is a place of hope and happiness through the unpredictable lifestyle surrounding Lyme Disease.

“Through our faith and hope in god, we have kept our family a strong unit and I know that there is a reason for all of this and we will persevere through this trial and be a light to others in need,” she said. “With God all things are possible.”

Graziano’s family, owners of Visconti’s Ristorante Folsom, will hold a fundraiser for Graziano called “A Taste of Visconti’s” from 5-9 p.m., on Monday, April 1, at the restaurant located at 2700 East Bidwell St., Suite 700, Folsom.

All of the money raised at “A Taste of Visconti’s” will go to help Graziano’s medical bills and fight further treatment that’s not covered by medical bills.

“A Taste of Visconti’s” will include three seatings at 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person.

The meal includes choices of eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, pasta marinara, soup or salad and garlic bread.

To reserve a seat, call (916) 983-5181.