People and Places
29/04/2019
A life of Lyme By Liz Rogers

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Initially Maddeline thought she had a bad dose of the flu. She was wrong. She explains: “Lyme disease — think Bell’s palsy, chronic burning skin, heart palpitations, digestive issues and food intolerances, vertigo and malaria symptoms. The problem is I had it in my body for seven years before I was diagnosed in 2013, and now it is chronic. You contract Lyme disease through a tick bite. I think it happened while I was visiting China in 2006. I got bitten by something on my nose, which went puffy and red. I got extremely fatigued and got flu symptoms a week or two after. On the bus tour they nicknamed me ‘Rudolph’ and we had a laugh at my nose. When I returned back to Melbourne I continued to get many different symptoms. Every day there was something different.”

Maddeline’s life was good before Lyme arrived. A career in fashion and styling including owning/operating a fashion retail space in Bay St, Brighton, and accessory buying overseas. Sculpting. Creating. Now she’s lucky to be able to walk around the corner with her husband Jeff.  She continues: “I’ll never forget the day I was at Southland with Jeff and I couldn’t even lift the smallest of shopping bags. On a bad day I have to stay at home and my world is spinning and my brain is a fog, but on a good day I can do mild exercise and some shopping. I am also working part-time two days a week now.”

Learning to say goodbye to the old Maddeline has been one of the hardest things for this 50-something mum of one. It’s been difficult for her family too. There’ve been multiple trips overseas searching for answers, treatments in Cyprus, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, internasal laser treatment, intravenous vitamin C, and also multiple treatments and medications in Munich. Getting sick can be expensive. She continues: “The treatments in Munich have helped and I’m taking less medications than I was before, but we have spent so much money on trying to find a solution. There is more known about Lyme disease in Europe. If it is detected early and treated with antibiotics, the outcome can be good. Unfortunately, if undetected it becomes very problematic. There are other pathogens that can be transmitted through the tick bite as well, which lead to other complications.”

Named after a small coastal town in Connecticut where some pediatric arthritis cases were found in 1975, there is more known about Lyme disease and co-infections in Europe and it is unrecognised here in Australia. Maddeline concludes: “This disease is like Russian roulette. We have no idea how many people in Australia have it because health officials don’t collect statistics as yet. It needs to change. You know it is real when you are lying there feeling your brain move inside your head and your son tells you ‘Mum! You smell like something dead’ when he bends down to kiss me goodbye. That’s scary because last night I felt like I was dying.”

Imagine that.

For more information on Maddeline’s story, go to fightinglymemywaymyjourney on Facebook or contact the Lyme Disease Association of Australia. See lymedisease.org.au

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