It came on suddenly. First the dizzy spells, bouts of nausea, rapid weight loss, unbearable headaches and panic attacks brought on by chest pain or suddenly, for no reason. She was a freshman at Union College, at her athletic prime having just made nationals in swimmingand she was terrified. Doctors she'd known forever were telling her they didn't know what was wrong and for Kaleigh Ahern of Burnt Hills, this was the scariest part.
The blood work came back normal and doctors just assumed I was stressed from college, not sleeping enough or eating right," said Ahern.
Finally, she tested positive, if "barely," for Lyme Disease. Ahern had her answer, yet things didn't get much better. She was on antibiotics but college remained a struggle and after getting sick again in December 2009, Ahern decided to take herself off her meds and eventually withdrew from college altogether.
"I had anxiety attacks about once a week, triggered by chest pain that made me think I was dying, or because I felt like I wasn't getting enough oxygen," said Ahern. "The disease infiltrates whatever body system if wants, so for me it was my nervous system and it messed everything up in my brain."
Ahern said for awhile, she thought everything was trying to kill her, which led to massive anxiety attacks that were high stress situations for everyone involved, namely her parents. Now she's trying alternative therapies and is getting better, slowly.
"I've improved a lot. I feel pretty much normal, not as much fatigue or anxiety. But sometimes I just don't feel right and know something's wrong," said Ahern.
Knowing when something is wrong, right from the get-go, is critical when battling Lyme Disease.
Michelle Moynihan didn't know she'd been bit by a tick. Tick bites aren't felt because an anesthetic-type fluid is released upon contact. She didn't develop the tell tale bulls-eye rash and even when she developed sudden and unusual symptoms, she never suspected Lyme Disease was to blame, especially since she tested negative under CDC criteria.