Ticked Off

A lyme disease patient fights for treatment

But so far, Egan hasn't gotten a check. And the insurance company has begun its appeal, which will draw out Egan's legal battle even further. Egan's other battles are also likely to go on indefinitely. He says his legal and medical bills have put him about $125,000 in the hole, a figure he says "goes up all the time, like the national debt."

Egan suspects he will never again be completely well. Though he's made dramatic strides in the past two years, he is still far from the healthy, active artist he once was. But he's come to appreciate the small things he can do. "I can look at picture books and read captions," says Egan, who also reads fiction now, though slowly. A good day involves a stretch of six pain-free hours and a few such activities to fill it. "I just have to keep myself occupied," says Egan, "and keep from going mad."

slerner@villagevoice.com

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