Oscar’s Mums Story…
We were contacted by Frances, Owner to a Cavapoo called Oscar who now lives with Lyme disease following a Tick bite she received after taking Oscar for a dog walk. Here is her real-life story to help raise the awareness of the threat of Ticks.
"Ticks were not something that I was particularly aware of. I knew that Oscar needed to be protected from them but was oblivious to how they could affect humans. I was also under the misconception that my dog would only be at risk if we visited Scotland or the New Forest. I now know ticks are even in urban areas such as towns and cities. You can use this interactive tick map here, created with the results from The Big Tick Project survey, which is a great start to understanding the risks in your local area. Even if you live in a low risk area, the widespread prevalence of ticks in the UK and the active nature of your pets puts them at risk of exposure.
Six years ago in March 2011 I went with Oscar for a walk along a disused railway line in Cawston Warwickshire and came home with a tick on Oscar just above his eye. I visited my vet straight away and it was removed for me as at the time I didn't know what I needed to do. The following day I noticed a strange mark on my leg and due to the strange appearance I eventually visited my GP who immediately recognised it as the bull’s eye rash of a tick bite. Which looks like this:
PLEASE NOTE: The 'bull eye’s rash' won’t always appear, so if you think you may have been bitten by a tick please refer to public health England website here:
During the consultation the doctor debated with himself as to whether I should have antibiotics, he decided not to. That decision changed my life.
Shortly after this I became extremely poorly however due to other medical treatment I'd just begun to undergo the symptoms I was experiencing were put down to that.
Subsequently my life as I knew it in 2011 changed drastically. I was 34 years old, a mum and working full time as a specialist behaviour teacher with children who had complex emotional needs. I loved my life and my job. Within a month of being bitten I was no longer working. I was confined to my bed, sleeping nearly twenty hours a day. When I was awake I could only crawl around the house to get to the bathroom – imagine having the worst flu ever but still having it six years later, unrelenting feeling of illness. At one point I'd not seen down stairs for almost a year.
My symptoms were:
Migraine like headaches that made me feel like I was dying, dramatic I know. Red raw bloodshot eyes that felt like they were going to pop out my head along with stabbing pains.
Light and noise sensitivity. Pain wracking my whole body- pain relief became my best friend. Wearing a neck brace for the stiffness and pain. The inability to use my brain, thinking and breathing were even a struggle. In my waking hours I could only cope with the low volume of noise…Oscar’s presence on the bed probably saved my life!
In the beginning, the first two years my husband would arrange to see consultants from endocrinologist, to rheumatologists, to gynaecologists, to menopause clinics the list goes on. I was diagnosed with a plethora of conditions, such as ovarian cysts, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism among other things. None of these answers explained why a healthy, energetic, fun loving, hardworking thirty four year old would suddenly have become so ill.
At thirty seven I was told to buy a mobility scooter to use on the days I could crawl downstairs! I was told that I was mourning the loss of my womb! I was told by my GP to just accept that the medical profession don't always have answers and I had to accept my lot in life! I was told that perhaps I was mentally ill and choosing to be like this!
In 2016 I went to a medical clinic called Breakspear and it was here that a serious of blood test were done. The results were conclusive, I had the DNA of parasites in my blood which confirmed that I had Lyme disease.
For six years the Lyme disease bacteria and other pathogens had been left unchecked to invade every inch of my body. I have now been undergoing treatment for a year for Lyme disease and about to embark on more antibiotics and then hopefully stem cell therapy. I am now out of bed and able to walk the dog everyday, but still need to sleep in the afternoon. My pain as improved but feel as if I am constantly pushing against a brick wall in order to achieve anything.
The Lyme disease has particularly affected my brain, to write this has been a real struggle, to remember and describe events is really difficult. Along with memory loss I have word loss, perception issues, hand eye coordination problems and neuropathy among other symptoms.
It has been a fight to be heard. I am grateful for the small things I can do and have hope for the future but am still amazed at how different my life is from one small tick bite! Take precautions, protect yourself and your dog. That’s why I support The Big Tick Project and you should too! Raise awareness and find out more at www.bigtickproject.co.uk"
We would like to thank Frances from Oscar_Cavapoo for getting in touch with us to share her story.