“It all began with a random tick bite. None of us can say when, or where, it happened. With little warning, an active, healthy and happy 12-year-old boy was reduced to a shocking level of disability”.
This is the story of Ben (name has been changed), who’s health journey with tick-borne disease began three years ago. Reine DuBois has been working closely with Ben and his family for over two years, and has had the pleasure of watching Ben’s return to health. Recently, Ben has returned to playing football after a three-year absence. Ben says “it feels so good to be back playing footy with my team mates, a sport that I love but wasn't sure I would be able to play again".
The question of whether Australian ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is controversial. However, we know that we do have tick-borne diseases. Ticks can carry a host of pathogens, including rickettsia and other types of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that can be passed on to a person when bitten. The three major tick-borne diseases in Australia are Queensland tick typhus, Flinders Island spotted fever, and Q fever.
While each person’s journey with tick-borne disease is different, we follow some clear guiding principles that allow us to move through the different stages of treating this condition.
Stage 1: Help the body metabolise the neurotoxins created by the different pathogens. This supports the body to detoxify many of the neurotoxins that cause most the neurological symptoms, muscle and joint pain, brain fog, fatigue, and vertigo. Establishing a person's individualised detox support is an essential first step to bring relief.
Stage 2: Restore immune function. Here we address diet (also essential), digestive health, and individual genetic polymorphisms (SNPs) like MTHFR.
Stage 3: Treat pathogens with herbal antimicrobials. Antibiotic and essential oils may also be used in some cases.
Stage 4: Restore mitochondrial and adrenal function to improve energy levels. In many cases, it is beneficial to see a psychologist in this stage, helping to make sense of nervous system feedback that occurs during the entire phase of illness.
Below, Ben’s father has generously provided an account of their journey into the maze of tick-borne disease – and out the other side.
“Conventional medicine in Australia refuses to acknowledge the existence of Lyme disease in Australia, saying that “there is no evidence that it exists here”.
This is so, even though many of the people who suffer from it have never left Australia’s shores. The effects of the disease are devastating. An apt way to describe it is to compare it with a sledgehammer blow to an electronic circuit board. Nothing works as it should any more.
There are physical aches and pains, there is brain fog, much of one’s mobility is lost and symptoms which mimic Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, MS and other diseases, set in. Many Lyme patients find themselves wheelchair bound and unable to get out of bed in the morning. For months, Ben’s mobility was restricted to crawling along the floor. For the last half of 2013, Ben was unable to go to school at all. For the following 2 years he attended school on a part-time basis.
The search for curative remedies was endless, extending to local alternative therapists, an integrated medical clinic in Byron Bay, and an expert based in the USA
This year Ben returned to school on a full-time basis and in recent months he began to express a desire to return to football. With great trepidation we watched as he played in his first practice match, not knowing how things would go and hoping fervently that he would not suffer any setbacks.
To his enormous credit, he has embraced his return to football. It has been instrumental in allowing him to regain his physical freedom. Of equal value has been his reconnection with many of his old team mates, and he has made new friendships as well. As “medicine” goes I don’t think that anything could be better. He has been prepared to put in the hard yards at training and to give his all on match day.
The icing on the cake is that Ben’s sister has also fallen in love with football and has joined him at the Sharks.
Our family is grateful that they have both been given the opportunity to play and we couldn’t be more proud of their effort and determination.
We hope that of all the medicines which Ben has tried, football turns out to be the silver bullet that kills this disease.”