I just had to keep the title on this story, what a tongue twister! New York Daily News Tuesday, August 28th 2007, 8:12 AM Queens chick fixed tick glitch for hicks in sticks. Still, I didn't go to "the country" on my summer vacation. I stayed right here in Queens. I won't go anywhere near where the deer and the antibiotics roam. Because where there is Bambi, there is a little monster called a Lyme tick. According to Assemblywoman Nettie Mayerson (D-Flushing) - who co-authored a 2005 State Assembly bill that demanded HMOs and the State Office of Professional Medical Conduct stop harassing doctors who treat Lyme disease as a chronic illness - New York State has the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the nation. So if I have to spend the rest of my life dodging killer traffic on Queens Blvd. as opposed to frolicking in the deer-dotted meadows of "the country," I will consider myself one lucky city slicker. See, I have a niece who has chronic Lyme disease. Cara was bitten by a dirty little deer tick in Rhinebeck, N.Y., when she was 7. She's 26 now and the last two decades of her life have been a living hell of pain and suffering, mega doses of antibiotics, wars with bloodless HMOs, alternative medicine treatments, lethargy, scary weight fluctuations from drug bloating and loss of appetite, and an almost spiritual quest for lasting relief. "It took us six years to get Cara diagnosed," says Betsy Jacaruso, Cara's mother, a well-known Hudson Valley painter who also is a chronic Lyme sufferer. "Some doctors don't even believe in chronic Lyme disease because it doesn't always show up positive in a blood test because when Lyme mutates, it can change structure into cyst forms and hide deep in the immune cells. But simple stress can make it flare." As a child, Cara's chronic Lyme disease often forced her to leave school mid-term. This incurable disease also has affected her adult working life, as some days she is simply unable to get out of bed because the infection caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria called spirochetes causes severe headaches, fatigue, pain, insomnia, nausea, general malaise. Chronic Lyme disease can leave some people completely disabled. And, of course, instead of trying to help these victims through a life of despair, the HMOs, those towering institutions dedicated to bottomless greed, have spent millions on lobbyists and lawyers who pressured the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct to harass doctors who treat Lyme disease as a chronic illness. "I represent Flushing, where we don't have a huge Lyme problem," says Mayersohn, a member of the Assembly health committee. "But I had an intern who went off to graduate school and the work world; then I received a very disturbing letter from her saying she'd developed chronic Lyme disease." Mayersohn says the disease had attacked the young woman's central nervous system, her ability to think clearly and her memory. "She had deteriorated from a beautiful, bright young woman with her whole life in front of her to a point where she could not function," says Mayersohn. "She also told me about the whole debate about Lyme disease and how it was affecting her ability to find a doctor to treat the disease." So this city slicker state rep took her Queens street smarts and looked into the upstate Lyme situation and found that the Office of Professional Medical Conduct was targeting those doctors who treated chronic Lyme victims with prolonged antibiotic treatments. "One 27-year-old woman, named Lia, was so afflicted that she was wheelchair-bound," says Mayersohn. "They wanted to put her into a nursing home. But once she received long-term antibiotic treatments, she was able to get out of the wheelchair. Today she rides a bicycle because, obviously, prolonged antibiotic treatments work. But the insurance companies didn't want to pay the costs so they brought pressure on the OPMC and one doctor actually lost his license." So the outraged gentlewoman from Queens co-authored her legislation which passed the state Assembly and the state Senate. Gov. Pataki, dedicated to protect and serve the insurance companies, vetoed it. "But he did have the state Department of Health send out a June 15, 2005, memo demanding that the harassment of Lyme doctors cease," says Mayersohn. "It did. Still, that one doctor never got his license back." Mayersohn says if the harassment of Lyme doctors begins anew, she'd consider drafting new legislation for Spitzer's consideration. Amazing that it takes a legislator from Queens to spearhead change to a raging upstate health problem. "But it's no different than my legislation on AIDS and stroke victims," says Mayersohn. "I'm not a doctor but I have common sense. If a woman suffering from chronic Lyme disease can go from a wheelchair to a bicycle on prolonged antibiotic treatment, it must mean it works."