Woman living with Lyme disease shares diagnosis, treatment challenges
A Huron County woman has had her life turned upside down by Lyme disease and wants others to be aware of the consequences.
Cases of the tick-borne illness are on the rise in Canada, but most people still have to go the U.S. for diagnosis and treatment.
It took two years, but Michelle Lacharite is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in her battle with Lyme disease.
"I actually slept four hours the other night, usually I sleep one hour per night."
But it's been a struggle. Two years ago, she was a active and working for a big London company, then one morning she woke up with a really sore back and the pain and fatigue and numbness spread to hands, wrists and joints.
"I could hardly walk, it was like getting up in the morning and someone had taken a hammer to both your feet. You felt like were about 80 years old," she says.
Her symptoms got worse and she ultimately had to quit her job. Doctors thought she had carpal tunnel syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Unconvinced, a naturopath suggested blood tests for Lyme disease not offered in Canada.
The results from the U.S. tests came back in May; Lacharite had chronic Lyme disease, she says, "I was so relieved. I thought, 'Wow, it is something, I'm not crazy.'"
Treatment would involve 6 to 12 months of antibiotics not covered by health insurance, but Lacharite has opted for a more natural approach.
To date she's spent over $10,000 for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, all in the U.S.
She says Canada needs to catch up with the rest of the world and improve Lyme disease blood tests, awareness and treatments.
"It's absolutely really is a disappointing situation where people cannott be properly diagnosed and tested, and then treated like any other disease."
In 2009, 182 Canadians were diagnosed with Lyme disease, in 2013 that number hit 682.
The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation belives that number is really in the thousands, and very, very slowly, Lyme disease warnings are becoming more common.
Keshia Hackett with the Huron County Health Unit says, "Both are vector-borne diseases, both are reportable diseases in Ontario, so I think there is a little bit more awareness around that as well."
Lacharite isn't cured yet, but is more hopeful not that she knows what she's dealing with, and she wants other people to be aware.
If you have questions about Lyme disease you can email Lacharite here.