It’s a debilitating disease that can be caught right in your own backyard. Lyme Disease affects thousands of Canadians, and likely many more don’t even realize they have it.

A tick can be as small as a speck of dirt, and such a little bug can cause a large problem. That’s exactly what happened to one London teen, whose life was turned upside down because of Lyme.

Brandan Barnett’s life was hockey – a decorated player with dozens of trophies – his mother Lisa Barnett will never forget the last game he played.

“He just wasn’t himself, he seemed disoriented and then at the end he ran out and said I have to find the washroom right away.”

Lisa, along with Brandan’s father Dan Barnett, assumed Brandan had a stomach bug, and that life would get back to normal soon, but that wasn’t the case, and they watched their son get more and more sick

Lisa says, “It was just one thing after another and we were like what could possibly be going on, what could be happening and what is affecting his system like this?”

After visits to family physicians and specialists, along with numerous tests, Brandan’s health continued to decline. His father Dan says there was no definitive answer as to why.

“I was getting frustrated and worried and wondering what’s going on, and you start seeing things slip away, wondering what will happen long term and a lot of worry.”

Finally two years after Brandan left that hockey game sick, it was determined Brandan has Lyme Disease.

“We thought, ‘Oh thank goodness now we know, and at least we are going to get some support, we are going to get answers and help for him.’ And that’s where we didn’t have any clue that wouldn’t be the case,” his mother says.

The Barnetts found out they would be like many other Canadians who would have to travel to the U.S. to get medical care and treatment for Lyme, due to a lack of support here.

“We looked everywhere. We looked within London, Toronto, Ontario, within Canada and we went out west and now we travel to Washington, DC and to India for therapy.”

It’s been six years and Brandan is still struggling daily with numerous symptoms, including pain. He is house bound most days and his dad says Brandan hasn’t been able to go back to school since.

“He’s almost 18. This started when he was 12 and he’s lost a third of his life that he will never get back.”

Lisa adds, “The hardest part is he says to us just get me better, he wants to get back to life and back to hockey and we just don’t have the answers.”

One of the answers Lisa and Dan would like is, why did it take two years to diagnose their son? It’s those two years they believe made his chances of recovery slim.

“Change needs to happen and we need quicker diagnoses and proper treatment plans and I find with the health care system there needs to be more collaboration with the doctors,” Dan says.

The Barnett family continues to fight for their son, with the hopes that one day, Brandan can go back to being the active and healthy person he once was.

Lisa explains, “It’s just getting him to the stage where he can be functional again, he can get his schooling, and all the things kids his age are doing, having friends getting his licence…whatever it is.”