My Partner Paul Doherty has suffered with Lyme Disease and its co-infections since being bitten by an infected tick in Co. Kerry in August 1989. Since then a very fit active man has become someone who struggles to move and needs constant pain killers to get through the day. He is no longer able to hike, cycle or fish, activities he loves to do. The disease is hard to detect and practically impossible to cure unless you receive antibiotics in the first 12 months after being bitten.
When an infected tick bites a human it releases saliva to stop blood clotting. Infected ticks carry bacteria, the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi. Recent studies have shown that it’s not just ticks that can carry this disease, mosquitoes, horseflies and spiders have all been found to be carriers. The bacteria migrate from the blood stream to the immune system and from there they penetrate every cell in the body. After 29 years of being infected the disease has now affected Paul’s heart, muscles, joints and brain. Most Doctors here and in the UK will not help and have constantly told us that there’s nothing wrong and Lyme disease does not exist.
Luckily other Countries do not agree. Doctors in USA and Germany lead the way in trying to find a cure or get sufferers into remission. Recently we discover a clinic in Bad Aibling in Germany called Klinik St.Georg, which is a Lyme Specialized Centre that has a 3 week programme of Hyperthermia that have proven effective in killing the bacteria in most Lyme patients. They raise the body’s core temperature to 41.6C; at that temperature the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria will die. After the treatment Paul will need a year of watching everything he eats to allow all the good bacteria in his body to regenerate (they too will be killed in the process).This process is not without risks, there can be cardiac side effects or cerebral problems and Paul will need to be prepared and monitored constantly while he undergoes the treatment.
We both feel it’s worth taking this risk as soon as possible so that Paul stands a chance of getting some quality of life back. Three weeks of daily treatment is what St. George has recommended for Paul due to the length of time he has been suffering. This will cost us about €30,000 for the treatments, hospital stay, return flights plus medications and supplements. As Paul hasn’t been able to work for 11 years and gets only a small disability allowance of €86 per week of which €144 goes on prescription medicine every 4 weeks. So this is a huge sum of money for us….. so If you are in a position to help us raise something towards the cost of the treatment we would be grateful, even a small amount will help us get closer to our target.
Paul ‘s always the first to help anyone in need even when it results in him unable to move for days afterwards but he hates the idea of asking for help himself, so I am asking for him.
Here in Pauls words, is what it’s like living with Lyme;
“Cast you mind back to August 1989, 29 years ago. I’ll bet you can’t even remember what you were doing, many of my friends weren’t even born, lots more were still soiling their nappies! I remember it well but for all the wrong reasons as it was the start of my 29 year nightmare with Lyme Disease. Whilst driving back to the UK from a holiday in Ireland (ironically just down the road from where I now live) I felt a stabbing pain in my backside (yes I’ve heard all the jokes!), this lasted the whole long journey so on arrival home I went rooting around and discovered a lump where a lump shouldn’t be! It felt like a wart but I knew I didn’t have a wart there only a day or so earlier (bear in mind I’d have needed a mirror on the end of a stick to see this, you getting the picture?!) I squeezed and pulled at it and eventually it came away to reveal what I now know to be a blood filled tick but at the time looked like something out of Alien! Little did I know through all the squeezing I’d pumped myself full of Lyme Disease filled saliva and my life would never be the same again.
Within a few months I began to feel lethargic all the time but being a typical male I kept it to myself and didn’t go to the Doctor, I just tried to carry on as normal playing as much sport as possible thinking I’d train my way out of whatever was causing it!
So as the years went by I ended up with muscles on my muscles, an 8 pack stomach plus pain and exhaustion which I was putting down to my ripe old age of 24-25! I managed to hold down a job through all this, luckily I could hide away in my office most of the day which earned me the tag of lazy by many people whilst in truth I could barely walk with the pain some days not to mention the fatigue.
Eventually all this led to me suffering multiple collapses and the acceptance there was something wrong which wasn’t going to go away on its own. So began a 2 year process of testing for various illnesses and was eventually diagnosed with M.E. I never accepted this was the case and visited many different alternative therapists including Naturapaths, Reflexologists, Herbalists and Accupuncturists.
My condition continued to worsen until 2007 when a further series of collapses and exhaustion forced me to give up work. Finally in 2008 I read a newspaper article about a woman with a very similar history to mine, she moved from UK to USA and was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, I immediately recalled my Tick bite. I then had private testing with bloods sent to a specialist lab in America and was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease and co-infections.. I was offered long term intravenous antibiotic treatment by the Breakspear hospital but the cost was prohibitive. Apart from a one week course of Doxycycline I have never had any treatment for Lyme Disease, only medication for pain relief which helps but seems less effective all the time.
A common misconception of Lyme is people thinking you go through good and bad periods, you don’t, it’s ALL bad, every second of every day for me is a state of constant joint and muscle pain and a constant downward spiral which has now left me with the inability to walk for more than 10 minutes without severe exhaustion. Any small bit of exertion leaves me debilitated for days.
I suffer regular bouts of problems with my heart and get a number of neurological issues which I find hard to explain, these include brain fog and a severe crushing sensation in the brain which can last 30 seconds or more . I had a brain MRI done in January 2016 which showed a number of lesions and significant changes to previous MRI. Such is the state of our health service in Ireland I am still awaiting a follow up appointment to explain these results after 2.5 years. This is all consistent with late stage Lyme Disease, most sufferers eventually die from heart or brain issues”.