Katy's story: Teens & Lyme

Katy says the hardest thing about having Lyme is that nobody understands.

She has trouble with word recall. She is susceptible to low blood sugar crashes. She is 15, and like so many others Lyme patients, at first her doctors misdiagnosed her condition, believing instead that she had a viral infection such as mononucleosis or Epstein Barr.

For six months Katy struggled against crushing fatigue and a painful skin rash, trying her best to keep up in school. Medications for the ailments doctors thought she had were only making her sicker. Her skin rash became so acute that her parents began to suspect their daughter might have contracted a flesh-eating virus. Fortunately, her grandmother, a registered nurse, listened carefully to her complaints and suspected that it might be Lyme. Her grandmother insisted Katy see a Lyme specialist. Katy's prognosis changed for the better when she received a correct diagnosis and subsequently began treatment with Dr. Chandra Swami, of Heritage, Pennsylvania.

Adults dealing with Lyme find it to be an alienating and frightening experience, but try being a teenager with Lyme -- and on top of that, a high-energy competitor. Katy excels in running and cheerleading and she is avidly honing her journalism skills and other pursuits. Her aim is to be a broadcast journalist, and in fact she is currently the "weather girl" for the local news station, which airs at her high school. Short-term memory loss isn't something that a young person should have to deal with. Imagine trying to survive the rigors of a normal school day!

For example, one day at school after diligently producing a video project and forgoing lunch, Katy experienced a vicious attack of low blood sugar. Recognizing that she'd better eat something immediately, she took out her sack lunch.

A school administrator snapped that she wasn't allowed to eat lunch sitting where she was. "Should I let all 900 students eat their lunch in here?"

"All the other 900 students don't have Lyme disease," countered Katy, put in the terrible position of having to defend herself for being ill.

One of the problems, says her mom, is that Katy looks great. She's vibrant and rosy-cheeked, and appears perfectly healthy. There's really no way for her teachers and school administrators to tell, simply by looking, that she struggles with painful symptoms every day.

Members, please login now and listen to Katy tell her story. Just wait until you hear what her lunchtime video project was all about, and why it was so engrossing that she forgot to eat. This young woman is a genuine inspiration.

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