A Sheffield woman has been forced to undergo treatment in the USA after she says medics misdiagnosed a life-threatening illness as depression – for 12 years.
Vanessa Boyd, aged 28, claims 30 medical professionals told her the symptoms were all in her head.
But Vanessa was actually suffering with Lyme Disease, a tick-borne illness which is fatal if left untreated.
The former engineer, who had to leave work due to her illness, said: “After being told so many times that I was depressed and there was nothing wrong with me, I started to believe it.
“I was thinking ‘am I crazy’ and began to believe it was all in my head.”
She added: “I have been tragically let down by the NHS.”
Vanessa said she initially started with a rash in 2003, which was diagnosed as impetigo.
Later that year, she presented a rash, fever, joint pain and headaches, which was diagnosed as viral meningitis – not Lyme meningitis, a symptom of the disease.
As the years progressed she returned to doctors repeatedly with fatigue, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, headaches, vertigo, blurred vision, chest pains and many more symptoms.
But her condition was never diagnosed.
Vanessa said: “Over the years This year doctors searched for every other central nervous system condition, aside from Lyme Disease.”
It was not until Vanessa searched her symptoms on the Internet in July that she suspected it was Lyme Disease.
After booking a private assessment, the condition was diagnosed later that month – 12 years after she first went to doctors.
But as her condition went undiagnosed for so long, the disease has now spread to her brain, heart and central nervous system – and symptoms are so severe she cannot lead a normal life.
Vanessa said: “If my illness had been diagnosed in 2003 then I would have a normal life now. In the early stages it can be treated with a quick short course of antibiotics.”
Last month Vanessa sailed to a specialist treatment centre in Washington DC – as she cannot fly due to inflammation around her brain – to begin a full year of advanced treatment.
Currently there is no equivalent treatment in the UK, and had she stayed, her prognosis was to become increasingly disabled with time.
As the treatment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, Vanessa and partner Laura Wake, 34, who has gone to the States with her, have spent their entire savings on medical bills.
Now Vanessa’s family is urging people to donate money so she can continue the life-saving treatment.
To help her, visit: http://gogetfunding.com/support-vanessas-fight-against-lyme-disease/