Few Columbus residents know about an infectious disease that may have already infected more than 5,600 Hoosiers, according to a western Bartholomew County man.

Gary Poland says that’s why he began working with an Indianapolis nonprofit group to sponsor a presentation on the dangers of Lyme disease. The local screening of “Under Our Skin: The Untold Story of Lyme Disease” will occur Feb. 25 at YES Cinema in downtown Columbus.

Until learning that he had contracted Lyme disease, Poland said he spent six months worrying that he would die every time he fell asleep.

After first experiencing dizziness in 2014, the Georgetown Road resident eventually felt incapable of eating, which caused the 35-year-old to lose 70 pounds in two months, Poland said.

When his family doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him, Poland saw more than a dozen other physicians. The first diagnosis he received was multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable and disabling disease of the central nervous system.

But after a few weeks, MS was ruled out.

Afterward, a different physician told Poland he may have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a progressive degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

New symptoms emerged that included neck and joint pain, as well as severe anxiety, Poland said.

“For months, I was wondering how much time I had left,” he said, as well as what his quality of life would be.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.