I was born in a small country town in Western Australia called Denmark. I spent the first 21 years of my life growing up there with my parents and brother, enjoying the bush, clean air and space that the country life offers. At about the age of 15, I started developing odd illnesses, allergies and sensitivities that gradually got worse the older I grew. After 17 years of progressively developing one illness after another, in June 2013 I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, including the following co-infections and viruses: Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rickettsia, non STD Chlamydia and chronic streptococcus in my Gut. Further clinical investigations indicate I may also have active Epstein-Barr Virus and Coxsackie Virus. To learn more about Lyme disease, please go to the Lyme Disease Association of Australia website: http://www.lymedisease.org.au/about-lyme-disease/about-lyme-disease/
Now at age 32, I have spent my entire adult life unwell and finally in June 2013 I was forced to take unpaid leave from my job due to severe chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and chronic migraine symptoms. As a result of the constant pain and fatigue, I am no longer able to enjoy spending time with my friends, attend Church, family or social gatherings or engage in basic everyday activities. I have now become fully dependent on help from family and friends to survive every day requiring assistance with housework, washing, grocery shopping, driving to medical appointments and gardening. I have been forced to give up all my hobbies, including cooking, singing in choirs which brought me so much happiness and the peacefulness of bush walking. My favourite place was the beach, walking along the water and finding peace and beauty in its surroundings and I have not been able to enjoy this for such a long time. I am missing out on my nieces growing up, and the oldest, only 4 often asks me when I will be well enough to take her to the park and play again or why I can no longer drive. I have no answer for that as I don't know how long treatment is going to take and this breaks my heart.
My Doctor has advised I will need treatment at least 2-3 years however my body has not been responding very well to treatment here in Australia and I am now worse than I was even 6 months ago. The Australian Government continues to deny the existence of Lyme disease here, despite thousands of Australians having tested positive from laboratories overseas. After considerable research and my rapidly declining health, my only apparent option is to seek treatment overseas at a specialist Lyme disease clinic in Germany "“ Borreliose Centrum Augsburg. The clinic offers a holistic approach to treatment and my main goal is to restore my body enough to the point of being able to return home and continue treatment in Australia. You can read more about the clinic and services it offers here: http://www.b-c-a.de/index.php?id=83&L=1
In order to enable my body enough time to take on board the intensive treatment and maximise the positive changes, I would like to have at least 6-8 weeks treatment at the clinic. Costs associated with this include:
· Clinical treatment - $2300 per week
· Additional medical expenses:
· Doctor visits "“ approximately $900
· Tests (Blood, organ ultrasounds, ECG etc) "“ approx. $1500·
· Port incision for IV therapy (day surgery at local hospital) - $2300
· Accommodation, food, daily travel to and from clinic, and living expenses - $1200-$1500 per week
· Flights and travel expenses (including travel insurance) - $3200 + (will require overnight stop over as unable to travel long distance in one stretch)
Treatment costs are not fixed and may increase, depending on assessments as completed by the Drs once I am at the clinic. Additionally, as I am unable to care for myself independently a family member will be my carer for the duration of the trip and I would like to cover some of her expenses as well.
Treatment in a foreign country is extremely expensive, particularly given the poor Australian to Euro dollar exchange rate and although I have received some generous support from family, I am still desperately needing to raise additional funds to cover all of my treatment and travel expenses whilst in Germany.
My ultimate long term goal upon reaching remission with this insidious disease is to become a qualified Counsellor and assist other people like myself going through the pyschological battles of dealing with long term chronic illnesses. This will require a significant career change and re-training of which I am eagerly anticipating.
Thank you so much for reading my story. Any support you can give will be greatly appreciated, no matter how small.
- Digby Hill
- Diana Blackwood