For the past 6 years I have watched Rachael unravel from an engaged, confident, active and sociable teenager to a disconnected, nervous and reclusive young woman.
We have lost count of the doctors, naturopaths and psychologists we have visited in these years and diagnoses’ have ranged from psychosis, depression and anxiety to insomnia and Fibromyalgia. In reality, these have actually been symptoms of Lyme Disease. Unfortunately, as symptoms of the illness can be varied and seemingly unrelated, misdiagnosis is all too common.
Rachael’s body is also infected with numerous viruses including Parvo, chronic Epstein Barr, Ross River Fever, Brucella and Streptococcal among others. She is unable to fight off these infections as a healthy person can because her immune system has become too weak to continue the ongoing battle. We are still uncertain as to whether Lyme Disease has directly contributed to the decline of Rachael’s immune system and the influx of viruses. What we do know is that Rachael is a very unwell 23 year-old.
Rachael graduated high school in 2008 as a School Captain, with a scholarship for University and an eagerness to make a difference in the world. She was motivated, compassionate and energetic. Rachael seemed to make friends wherever she went and was always more than willing to lend a hand to someone in need regardless of whether she had known the person for many years or a single day.
Of course, as a mother, I could go on about my daughter’s many qualities but instead I thought I’d share with you a memory of Rachael that better illustrates who she is as a person.
I remember a young woman who used to work at our local petrol station. She would serve customers with her head lowered and usually avoided eye contact if possible. We were waiting in line one day and Rachael said to me, “Ok Mum, I’m going to try to make her smile, she looks as though she needs a bit of cheering up.” And so, for several visits to the petrol station, Rachael would come into the shop with me and strike up a conversation with the woman. It was just simple things like asking how her shift was going or joking about impatient people in the queue but she would always really listen to the young woman’s response. A few weeks later as we arrived at the counter, the woman was looking at us with a smile on her face and before Rachael could say anything, she was telling us about her day and her customers and asked us about our evening. When we got back to the car, Rachael was delighted. She turned to me and said, “You know, it’s unreal isn’t it? Sometimes all we need from each other is a chance.”
Now, we are trying to give Rachael her chance.
Lyme Disease can usually be treated with a six-week course of antibiotics if the infection is recent. Chronic Lyme Disease poses a far more complex problem. Over time these ‘bugs’ form a type of armour that makes it harder for the antibiotics to penetrate. They infiltrate vital organs like the brain and heart, causing hallucinations and loss of memory and brain function to heart palpitations and nerve damage.
Rachael is trying her best to remain positive. On good days she tells me that she is still young and has many healthy, happy years ahead but it is increasingly hard to battle this illness as she watches her friends and others in their early 20’s moving on with their lives while she is stuck in the cycle of crippling pain, chronic fatigue and the neurological trauma that comes with Chronic Lyme Disease.
Our greatest obstacle is the fact that our government refuses to accept the existence of the disease in Australia, meaning that none of the treatment, antibiotics and detoxification regimes are even partially funded by the healthcare system or recognized by our Australian insurance companies. Worse still, is that treatment is extremely limited here. It has also proven to be a long, tedious and costly experience to receive diagnoses, let alone treatment.
After extensive research and many talks with our doctors as well as patients and doctors from a hospital in Germany who treat Lyme, we have come to the decision that travelling to Germany is the best hope Rachael has for recovery. The treatment, however is very intensive and in conjunction with a two week stay in hospital, there is a stringent, six -month protocol following her return home. The Lyme Disease protocol in Germany will also help to rid Rachael’s body of its other chronic infections while giving her immune system a much needed boost.
The downside is that treatment alone costs $23,000. This does not include flights and pre and post treatment expenses and medications. All up it makes for a very expensive protocol but the way we feel, $30,000 is a small price to pay in exchange for our daughter’s health and ultimately, her life.
It’s never easy to ask for assistance in this kind of situation and admittedly, Rachael was reluctant when we first mentioned the idea of fundraising. She has a personal loan and has increased her credit card limit and we are saving everything we can. Unfortunately we are still roughly $10,000 short of our goal.
How You Can Help
If you know someone in a similar condition, you'll understand it's an extremely difficult thing to watch someone you love suffer and to feel the helplessness that comes with not being able to provide the healing they need. We believe we have found an effective treatment and this is where we are asking for your help, generosity and support to help Rachael beat this disease for good and get her life back on track.
We greatly appreciate any help you are able to offer and even if you aren't able to donate, there are other ways you can contribute. Supportive and encouraging words are always welcome and we would be very grateful if you could share this campaign on your social networks.
Every little bit really does mean the world to us and we would like to thank everyone for your kindness and support over the years and during this tough time.
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