A young woman who felt like something was “eating away at her” for more than 20 years has been diagnosed with numerous tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme Disease.
Briony Hunt was bitten by a tick when she was just two-years-old, but doctors never made the connection between this and the various symptoms she has suffered with throughout her life, Berkshire Live reports.
The 26-year-old was even laughed at by health professionals as she listed her various ailments – as they didn’t think it possible for her to have so many.
Almost two decades later, she has finally received a proper diagnosis after the immense struggle she has faced, both mentally and physically.
She now needs to travel to Poland for private treatment for Supportive Oligonucleotide Technique (SOT) treatment and supportive therapies, which is currently unavailable on the NHS.
The therapy will help her host of tick-borne diseases which include: late-stage Lyme Disease, Bartonella, Babesia, Analplasma, and Seronegative Inflammatory Arthritis (HLA – B27 positive).
These are alongside secondary conditions which are likely caused by not treating the underlying cause for so long: secondary mitochondriopathy, polycystic ovary syndrome (and pelvic congestion), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, lymphocytic vasculitis, and si joint dysfunction.
She explained that there are too many symptoms from these illnesses to list.
It’s taken Briony over two decades to get diagnosed with tick-borne illnesses including Lyme Disease “due to there being little understanding of tick-borne diseases and how they present.”
“I went undiagnosed for over two decades,” she said. “The lack of awareness within the NHS and the medical community, in general, is appalling.
“It’s been a real struggle to get to where I am today. At times, I felt overwhelmed and alone. I feel that many NHS doctors did not take me seriously.
“Some didn’t believe it was possible for me to be so sick for so long and have a long list of symptoms — I’ve even been laughed at.
“When a diagnosis couldn’t be identified a doctor tried to convince me it was ‘all in my head’, without a cause. Some said I should give up the hope that I would get better.
“It was heartbreaking and frustrating, to say the least. As Avril Lavigne said, after being diagnosed with Lyme Disease, ‘it is a global pandemic, but not a global priority’.”
The day Briony was bitten by a tick when she was two “changed my life forever”, she said.
This is what started her “traumatic 20-plus year journey” where she would get sicker and sicker, being passed from doctor to doctor with no one understanding the symptoms of how to treat them.
Briony said that when she finally got diagnosed “it was frightening to find out the tick-borne diseases are now late-stage” but says that she is “relieved that after over 20 years of being passed around the NHS” she finally knows what is “eating away” at her “mentally and physically”.
“I felt hopeful after I found a private specialist, who could really help,” she tells me. “I was excited by the prospect of a pioneering treatment and with it, the hope of a full life.
“Some of these diseases, particularly Lyme and Bartonella, affect the brain, causing a variety of psychological issues, and having to battle through this daily takes its toll too.
“Although I have had some very dark days, this life has taught me resilience and to be thankful I still have a life.
“I am deeply grateful for all the support I have received. People have sent me so many kind messages, have called me to wish me well and have shared their heartfelt words about my plea on social media.
“It really means so much to me. Beating these diseases would be life-changing.
“I think there is power in finding at least one thing to be grateful for every day and doing one thing that brings you joy, no matter how small it seems,” she said.
“I shift my internal focus onto what I can experience and try to see the beauty in life, despite everything I battle through every day.
“It’s hard but I remind myself, that I am not the illness. I won’t give up hope that I will get better.”
Briony has been unable to work for two-and-a-half years which means that she has exhausted all of her savings, hence her need to raise funds in the form of a GoFundMe page.
She needs to raise £50,000 for the treatment and without it, she will be unable to go into remission.
Briony’s friends have taken to social media to post about her illness as well and how she needs to raise funds desperately for this cutting-edge treatment.
NHS England was approached by Berkshire Live but did not provide a comment.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.