A woman was left partially bedridden for 14 years her doctors misdiagnosed her chronic fatigue for depression when in fact she had LYME DISEASE.
Lisa Vallo, 49, saw nine doctors during her illness in which she suffered from extreme tiredness, nausea, arthritis, breathlessness and a racing heart.
The mum-of-two, who spent entire weeks sleeping which medics put down to depression and ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Lisa would spend hours and sometimes entire days asleep on her sofa or in bed due to the exhaustion-inducing illness.
It was not until 2015 that she was finally diagnosed with tick-borne condition Lyme Disease – after persuading her GP to send a blood sample off to a private clinic in Germany.
She said: “My battery was always flat.
“I went completely off alcohol – the nausea was like the worst hangover you’ve ever had but every single morning.
“I would be asleep downstairs on the sofa then go upstairs and fall asleep on the bed.
“The effort of just climbing the stairs left me gasping for breath and I would not make it back down the stairs.
“I would literally fall asleep anywhere – the most bizarre place was at my daughter’s hip-hop dance class on the floor.”
Self-taught artist Lisa started suspecting she had the condition in 2010 after watching a TV interview with Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell, whose family is afflicted with Lyme.
She remembered being bitten by a deer tick in 2002 which she suspects her cat brought home.
She said: “I just woke up in the morning and there it was on my tummy so I just pulled it off thinking it was a piece of dirt.
“There was a little speck of blood and that was that.
“But I started feeling fluey for quite sometime afterward – that went on for years.
“I was ill more than anyone else around me and I started sleeping for days at a time.”
But it was about seven years down the line when Lisa, of Bradford, West Yorks., realised something was really wrong.
She had emigrated to Limoges, south west France, with her two children and then husband in 2007.
Two years later the symptoms of the disease seemed to accelerate.
Lisa was spending 75 per cent of her time in bed while every waking moment was filled with pain and fatigue.
The condition was so debilitating that Lisa would pester local doctors for help – visiting her surgery every week for the last two years of her stay in France and seeing four different doctors.
But they couldn’t find the cause, instead diagnosing her with depression and prescribing a powerful sedative which made her fatigue even worse.
Finally, Lisa’s worsening condition and the break-up of her marriage convinced her to move back home to England.
As soon as she arrived back in Bradford Lisa persisted with her GP, demanding different tests to find the cause of her problem.
A real low-point came in 2015 was when Lisa’s GP sent her to be tested for ME.
She said: “The staff at the ME clinic knew I didn’t have ME and I knew it.
“He said, ‘I am sorry Lisa – there is nothing I can do for you.
“I came out of there weeping.
“And by May of last year I knew something was really wrong because I was sleeping so much more.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get any better and ended up planning my funeral.
“I was thinking, ‘is this it?'”
In one last ditch effort to get some treatment Lisa persuaded her GP to send her blood to be tested at a private clinic in Germany.
She said: “Low-and-behold the blood came back and I test positive for Lyme Disease.
“It was absolutely amazing to get a diagnosis – I was ecstatic.
“But I also felt really angry about all those lost years – I wanted to stick my fingers up at the whole medical profession.”
But for Lisa, who works as a full-time commissioning artist, the chance of treatment was slim.
“There are clinics in America but you are talking £100,000.
“Where was I going to get that kind of money?”
In the end she was treated by a specialist in East Yorkshire with antibiotics which made her feel even worse.
And after three months of the treatment she stumbled upon a holistic treatment from America while researching the disease online.
She said: “The treatment uses natural supplements which build up the strength in your body to fight the bacteria.
“I’ve been on the treatment for four months and I feel better 95 per cent of the time.
“For the first time in years I’ve been able to have a drink – it’s great.
“I have felt ill for so many years that I am trying to make the most of things now.”
But Lisa doesn’t take her own recovery for granted and is desperate to make the public and the medical profession more informed about Lyme Disease.
In England and Wales there are 3,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease each year according to Public Health England.
Research by the Caudwell Lyme Disease Charity has found there are around 45,000 undiagnosed cases of Lyme Disease in this country each year.
For more information visit https://caudwelllyme.com.
By Ben McVay