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Kathy's Story

I have spent my life around horses. It was my hobby growing up and then became my career. I was at the World Championship Horse Show in Louisville Kentucky in 1989 when my nightmare with Lyme Disease began. I live in Kentucky but horses came to this show from all over the country as well as several other countries.

One day while we were getting our horses settled in I noticed a small red circle on my chest just below my neck. I assumed something had bitten me, but did not put much thought into it for several days. The circular spot grew each day until it covered my whole chest and neck area. There was a small white area in the middle. I had never even heard of Lyme Disease so I was not familar with the EM rash.

About the fourth day after noticing the red spot I began to have a very stiff neck and a fever. I felt like I was coming down with the flu. My neck became so stiff I could barely move my head. It was then that I decided to go to an all night medical center and see what might be going on. The doctor removed a very small tick from the center of the rash. He actually put it under a microscope and showed it to me. Perhaps if this happened today, I woud have gotten antibiotic treatment right away.

I hope so! Not only did I not recieve treatment, Lyme Disease was never mentioned. I was sent on my way with nothing but an antihistimine for the rash. A friend of mine who had heard of LD told me to go to a doctor and so I did. The doctor told me Lyme Disease was not in Kentucky. I told him about the horse show and that we were stabled next to horses from New Jersey. I think he gave me the antibiotics just so I would relax about it.

He gave me 10 days of amoxicillin. I have since learned what a big mistake that was. It wasn't near enough to kill the bacteria, but enough to alter my blood test which would be important later. It isn't possible here to tell everything that happened after that. I am sure my story is like many others as far as all of the doctors I went to, and the array of strange symptoms I developed. What makes this story so shocking is the fact that the tick was removed by a doctor from the rash site!

I told every doctor I saw about that day and how all of these symptoms havedeveloped since then. They all continued to tell me I could not have Lyme in this area and that I tested negative. I suffered horrible headaches, extreme fatigue, back pain, neck pain, a burning stabbing sensation on the soles of my feet and later moving up to my ankles. I would get pinpricking sensations on my head, ny hands and my legs. The pain and numbness in my legs became so severe that an orthepedic surgeon said I needed back surgery.

Anxious for relief I let them go in and scrape down my bones in the lower back. This was suppose to take the pressure off my nerves which he believed was the problem. When this did not relieve the leg pain he told me it would take time. Time passed--lots of time. I was missing a lot of work. I became very depressed and started experiencing the many nueropsychiatric symptoms. Doctors just assumed everything was in my head and the depression only added to this belief.

I lacked concentration and was having trouble with my memory. Reading and spelling became difficult for me and I felt as though I was in a "brain fog" most of the time. I also suffered from extreme mood changes. Four and a half years after the bite I was telling my symptoms to a doctor who had become a good friend of mine. He said it was definitley Lyme Disease and helped me find a doctor who treated Lyme. I have been on and off all kinds of therapy the past 5 years including 4 times on IV treatment. My symptoms seem to improve only to return after I go off antibiotics.

I was a very healthy, happy 32 year old when I was bitten. I was in a job I loved and was looking forward to a family one day. All that changed for me. I feel as though Lyme Disease has robbed me of some of the best years of my life. Now I spend my time trying to learn to deal with all the changes and trying to educate others about this disease. It is amazing to me how few people know how devistating it can be.

My heart goes out to all of you suffering from Lyme and I hope and pray that in the near future there will be some answers for all of us. My thanks go to all of you who support Lyme victims. A strong support system is so important in the healing process. Below is a saying that helps me to keep going.

When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.


Kathy Old

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