Pauline Bowie, a 54-year-old mother of three, suffered from mental confusion, headaches, muscle aches, carpal tunnel and even wet herself after being bitten by a tick in the United States in 1989.
Image: Newsquest / SWNS)
A teacher who feared she had dementia told how she was diagnosed with Lyme disease after nearly 30 years.
Pauline Bowie, 54, a mother of three, thought she must have dementia – after enduring brain fog, headaches, muscle aches, carpal tunnel and even getting wet.
She begged NHS doctors to take her symptoms seriously, but they were repeatedly left unanswered until she took matters into her own hands.
It wasn’t until Pauline sent blood samples to Armin Laboratories in Germany in 2018 that she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, after being bitten by a tick in the United States in 1989.
The condition, a tick-borne bacterial infection, can cause serious problems and attack the nervous system if left untreated.
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Newsquest / SWNS)
Newsquest / SWNS)
Pauline struggled with her illness for nearly 30 years before receiving antibiotics that cured all of her agonizing symptoms in just four weeks.
Pauline, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, said: “I had been really struggling with my health for years. I was in agony every day, I just didn’t know why.
“It was so painful, but the really scary thing for me was the brain fog. I was worried I had early-onset dementia. I forgot things and sometimes found it hard to think.
“It was horrible. I thought I was losing my mind. When the diagnosis came, the penny dropped so fast that everyone could see the huge improvement and change in me.
“Symptoms I had for 29 years suddenly started to disappear. My carpal tunnel was gone, I stopped getting wet, the joint pain started to fade, the headaches from hell were gone and the brain fog was gone.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
Pauline was working for Camp America in Michigan in August 1989, aged just 21, when she was bitten by a tick.
Soon after, she suffered from the flu before developing a rash that grew to the size of a ‘dinner plate’.
She was misdiagnosed as ringworm on her return to Scotland, and over the next six months her health continued to deteriorate.
Pauline saw gastric specialists, urologists, cardiologists, specialists in gynecology, rheumatology, neurology and, lately, infectious diseases – but could not find answers as to why she was so sick.
It wasn’t until she heard about Lyme disease in April 2018 that she sent her blood to Germany, which tested positive for the disease.
She was prescribed 28 days of doxycycline, which eliminated her symptoms, but after the treatment stopped, they returned.
Pauline was then treated by a doctor for two years with a combination of metronidazole and rife, which targets the disease with low-energy electromagnetic waves.
She now treats herself with her own machine and also maintains a healthy diet to keep her symptoms under control.
If she has a severe flare-up, her doctor may prescribe a booster of antibiotics, but she is now pain free for most days and is in remission.
She added: “In Scotland we are now fighting for better testing and treatment of patients with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
“I always tell people to keep the tick that bit them and have it tested just to be safe.
“The problem is, they’re so small you won’t feel a thing if you’re bitten, so you need to check them if you’re out all day.
“It can be so small that you mistake it for a blackhead, but it’s important to remove it correctly as soon as possible.
“I keep a tick remover with me everywhere I go now and my whole family does the same now.”
Pauline is determined to spread awareness so others can get help as she is in remission of the disease.
She has been a volunteer at the Lyme Resource Center for three years.
Administrator Jack Lambert said: “Lyme disease is now considered the ‘great mimic’ as it mimics many other conditions and can go unnoticed.
“Most people don’t remember a tick bite, less than half remember the classic rash you get and the antibody test isn’t as accurate, with studies showing it’s positive in 30-70% of cases.
“There are probably many more patients in Scotland with Lyme disease than reported.
“The consequences of a misdiagnosis are devastating.
“Early recognition and early treatment with antibiotics can prevent long-term complications.
“However, unfortunately, training for doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals is minimal.
“We need strong campaigns in Scotland for prevention, signage and warnings for those who go outdoors to raise awareness and train patients and healthcare professionals to recognize the early signs of Lyme disease.”
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