It starts with a red rash, but can later affect joints, the nervous system, and even the heart.
It’s called Lyme disease, and for a woman in Cromwell, it has taken over her life.
Rebecca Tibball has lived with chronic Lyme disease for the past year and now she is making it her mission to raise awareness about symptoms, as many people don’t even know they have it.
Tibball said she noticed the rash in December of 2014, and thought it was stress, but that wasn’t what it was at all.
“I was a runner. I did 5K's. I have a 7-year-old son. I've always been active. I have a big social life, wonderful friends. On bad days, I'm bed ridden, but I've become a hermit in my house,” Tibball said.
She didn’t realize she had Lyme disease symptoms until her chiropractor said something.
“He said you need to find a Lyme doctor and I did. And the test came back blaring with Lyme’s disease, Epstein-Barr, mono virus and other viruses as well, my thyroid, so it attacked my whole system,” Tibball said.
She isn’t working right now and goes to doctor’s appointments almost daily.
If you get bitten by a tick, a small, red bump will appear, but that doesn’t mean you have Lyme disease.
Some people don’t even realize they were bitten. In some cases, tests don’t always show a patient has Lyme.
“The basic Lyme tests do not come back positive for the most part, and mine came back negative,” Tibball said.
While some people will have flu-like symptoms, others will develop joint pain or neurological problems, which is why Tibball wants to be a voice for those who don’t know where to turn.
“I’m hoping people now hear my story and are like ‘these are my symptoms, I think I might have Lyme’,” she said.
Tibball will soon head to Washington D.C. with Senator Richard Blumenthal to talk about a new bill that could help those who are suffering.
The bill, which was introduced last summer, requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop better tests, treatment and even explore vaccines.
“This disease is often undiagnosed and untreated, people have to be their own advocates," Blumenthal said.
He has been working on this bill for a decade and is pushing for it to pass this legislative session.
“Right now, countless people suffer from Lyme who are never diagnosed with it and may suffer from it for years and years and years,” Blumenthal said.
“I don't look sick all the time. So people can say to me ‘you look fantastic’ and I'll be like ‘but you don't know what I feel like inside.’ I've lost 36 pounds since being sick. It's miserable,” Tibball said.
The bill has support from New England lawmakers.
For more information on the bill, click here.
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