'It's taken my life away' - How Lyme disease left mum in a wheelchair
PUBLISHED: 16:29 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 19:35 01 May 2019
A Suffolk mother-of-three has told how her whole life was turned upside down after she was bitten by a tick and developed Lyme disease.
Zara Taylor was a keen runner and amateur boxer, who owned her own hair salon.
Now she lives her life in a wheelchair after the infection spread to her nervous system.
The Sudbury mum is warning others of the effects of Lyme disease, adding: “Lyme disease has taken my life away, but things could have been so different if I was prescribed the antibiotics when I needed them.”
Back in 2015 Zara and her mother Angela were keen cross-country runners, and enjoyed spending time in the countryside near their home in Sudbury.
One day Zara noticed a rash on her arm, but brushed it off as ringworm or an insect bite – however, just a few weeks later Zara suddenly collapsed while the pair were out running.
She visited her GP but says she was sent home and told the rash was an allergic reaction or a sign of ringworm and it was nothing serious to worry about.
Zara soon became unwell – her speech began to slur, she felt tired all the time and suffered from flu like symptoms.
Her hair even started to fall out on one side, but Zara says that her local GP put it down to stress.
Her condition gradually became worse and she even visited a dentist after experiencing severe jaw pain.
The x-ray showed that there was nothing wrong, but she was prescribed with antibiotics to relieve the pain.
Then things took a turn for the worse.
“One day I found a full-bodied tick in my bed and after searching my symptoms online decided to visit my GP,” said Zara.
On her return she asked for a blood test, but according to Zara doctors said Lyme disease was very rare in the area, and refused to test her bloods for the infection.
Zara got progressively worse – losing control of her bowel and developing an erythema marginatum rash on her stomach.
Speaking of the illness, Zara said: “I felt awful and like I was losing control of my body.”
Zara went back to her GP and begged for a blood test which came back negative – but Zara wasn't giving up.
In 2016 visited a neurologist in Essex who diagnosed her with oligoclonal bands in her spinal fluid – which were a result of the infection of her nervous system called neuroborreliosis.
She also had private tests done in Germany which showed she had three strains of Lyme disease.
It was now too late for the antibiotics to work and Zara's health continued to deteriorate.
She said: “I feel all of this could have been stopped if they had taken my symptoms seriously.”
Now the 37-year-old is wheelchair bound and dependent on her 61-year-old mother Angela, who helps Zara take care of her three children aged six, 10 and 15.
She continued: “It's been really hard – I lost my business, I can't do things with my kids and I barely leave the house – I can't be the mother that I used to be anymore.”
The council allowed the family to build a bungalow on medical grounds – which was made accessible for wheelchairs and is right next to Zara's parents house.
Her mother Angela was also bitten by a tick a year after Zara – but was given the antibiotics and has since fully recovered.
Meanwhile Zara is continuing to struggle on a daily basis, suffering from neuroborreliosis, a disorder of the central nervous system which is caused by Lyme disease.
The pair want other people to be aware of Lyme disease and the possible effects it can have if left untreated.
Zara said: “You know your own body, but not everyone gets a rash when they get bitten.
“My advice would be to stay persistent with the NHS but if they don't take you seriously then consider being seen privately before it is too late.”
Her mum Angela also encourages parents to be aware of ticks when their children are playing outside in the grass.
She added: “Ticks are ant-size and you can't just get them on deer, they can land on birds, house martins and hedgehogs – it's best to seek professional help if you think you have one.”