- Amy Kennedy was sick for three years before her Lyme disease diagnosis
- She believes she contracted the disease from a tick bite in the Thai jungle
- It left her unable to walk and with the left side of her face paralysed
- She has required $180,000 of medical treatment overseas
A former surf lifesaving champion battled nausea, fatigue and the stroke-like paralysis of half her face after contracting a rare disease in the jungles of Thailand.
Amy Kennedy, 26, believed she contracted Lyme disease when a tick bit her as she explored the area during a holiday three years ago.
The most worrying sign something was wrong came following her return home, when Amy woke up one day and could not feel the left side of her face.
Worrying: The first sign something was wrong came when Amy (right) woke up to find the left hand side of her face paralysed (left)
Intrepid: Before she got sick, Amy was a gold medal surf lifesaving champion in Queensland
The primary school teacher spent three years diagnosing the mystery condition and even endured a stroke scare before doctors suggested testing for Lyme disease.
‘[In 2014] while working at her school, she had a scare and was rushed to hospital by ambulance as they thought that she had a stroke,’ her mother Michele wrote on the crowdfunding site Gofundme.
‘[In 2015] her symptoms worsened and she had a facial setback, the neurological issues became more complicated as she was unable to speak.
‘Upon rehabilitation, her speech was slurred. [She] saw new doctors and specialists who suggested Lyme Disease testing.’
Distressing: Mother Michele said it was heart breaking to watch the disease draining her daughter
Amazing: Amy was a primary school teacher before she was struck down by the illness
Lyme Disease is an infectious condition caused by Borrelia bacteria and commonly transmitted through tick bites.
Symptoms can include migraines, nausea and facial paralysis.
WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection mainly transmitted by insects, most commonly ticks.
It can affect the digestive, musculoskeletal, respiratory and neurological systems.
Sufferers often experience symptoms which mimic other diseases, making it very difficult to diagnose.
Lyme disease is not officially recognised in Australia, however it is in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
The disease is not officially recognised as present in Australia and there is no specialist treatment in the country.
After the stroke scare Amy sent a blood sample to experts in Germany to see if Lyme disease might be the cause.
‘[She] received a positive reading on many strands for Borrelia (Lyme disease),’ mother Michele wrote.
At her worst, Amy could not walk, struggled to talk and had to be showered by her mother.
Michele said it was devastating to watch her drained by the disease.
‘She had so much energy and so much love to share with the world. Seeing her so drained of life is heart breaking.
‘Amy is a primary school teacher who is amazing at what she does.
‘She has always lived to teach and teaching is her world.’
Back on her feet: Amy (right) had received treatment overseas and was slowly getting better, her mother said
Following $180,000 of treatment overseas, mother Michele said Amy was slowly getting back on her feet.
‘Amy’s had two trips overseas now for treatment. She is so much better.
‘Now it is just a matter of maintaining and keeping her immune system up.
‘With her treatment now she is able to walk. She can return to work one day a week.
‘She has mild facial paralysis. But nothing like it was, and it might only last for a week at a time.’
Having come through the three-year ordeal, Amy wanted to now give others hope there was a way to beat the disease.
‘It’s been such an incredible journey,’ Michele said.
‘She has documented it all the way through. Eventually she’ll be able to bring awareness to others.’