Ticked off over Lyme
SOMETIMES Sabine Gaber has good days; the rest can be difficult while she struggles to overcome Lyme disease.
The debilitating condition has left Mrs Gaber so weak she is unable to open a bottle of milk or hold a coffee cup on some days and, on others, her family has to help her with basic everyday tasks such as dressing.
Most frustrating for the Harvey Siding mother is if the disease had been caught early there is a good chance things would not have become so difficult.
"If they get it early they can kill it," she explained at home this week.
"After four weeks it mutates and splits up. It goes into the blood, tissue and organs. Now I'm on long-term antibiotics to catch each cycle."
Mrs Gaber takes 28 tablets a day (two types of antibiotics, herbal supplements and vitamins) to treat the disease, and needs three penicillin injections per week for the next year.
"Today is a good day," she said. "I'm awake all night. I have lost about three kilos - I didn't have that to lose. Antibiotics make me sick and I have no appetite, I have to force myself to eat. Some days I have to have splints on my hands."
She was able to pick up objects when The Gympie Times saw her, albeit with the shakes.
Mrs Gaber is trying to alert the authorities that Lyme disease can come from Australian parasites.
She said her health rapidly deteriorated after she found a paralysis tick under her arm in May last year. She thinks the tick came from boer goats kept at the family farm.
"Last year was a bad year for ticks," she said.
Soon after finding the tick Mrs Gaber came down with flu-like symptoms.
"I started taking vitamin C. With the goats, if they are sick from a tick we give them a high dose. But it got worse and worse and I went to see the doctors."
The problem is doctors were unable to diagnose Lyme disease and the Australian Government believes there is little evidence of it occurring in Australia.
As Mrs Gaber got sicker, the doctors gave her one diagnosis after another.
"I had researched it on the net. I had the symptoms but the doctors said it couldn't be."
She developed rheumatoid arthritis and was given a plethora of drugs to take, but no one could tell her why all of a sudden she contracted the illness.
When she experienced terrible "frozen shoulders" and had to be rushed to hospital when the pain was too much to bear one night - they diagnosed her with fibromyalgia.
Soon after she was lethargic and was diagnosed with chronic fatigue then, after suffering severe mood swings and hot flushes at night, she was told they were symptoms of menopause.
"But you don't get all of this at once."
Because of the sudden compounding illness Mrs Gaber suffered depression, until she found a doctor online who was treating patients all over Australia for Lyme disease.
She knew she had been bitten by a paralysis tick and had a list of symptoms, all she had to do was search tick bites and humans.
But it was hard to find a doctor to believe her, until she found Sydney doctor Peter Mayne's website.
She is now about halfway through her treatment of the disease and hopes to have it beaten by the end of the year.
- Lyme disease has different strains and associated diseases
- Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium called borrelia
- Symptoms include body-wide itching, chills, fever, general ill-feeling, headache, light-headedness or fainting, muscle pain and stiff neck
- If diagnosed in the early stages, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics
- In later stages of Lyme disease, the infection spreads through the bloodstream and can cause infection in the brain and membranes surrounding the brain (meningoencephalitis) and infection in or around the heart (endocarditis, myocarditis or pericarditis). The disease can also cause inflammation of joints and cause joint pain and long-term neurological involvement
Mrs Gaber said the bacteria could hide in the body, in anything else that was wrong and made those things worse