A super fit athlete has been left bed bound suffering from more than 60 symptoms after medics failed to realise she had a curable disease for more than SIX YEARS.
Jessica Bennett, 31, knew something was wrong when she went from being an energetic fitness model and businesswoman to a tired, weak, woman in excruciating pain.
She now suffers from over 60 symptoms including seizures, speech problems, hair loss, chronic insomnia and severe bloating.
More than 30 doctors failed to find the cause, with several making false diagnosis including DEPRESSION and irritable bowel syndrome .
Eventually she was diagnosed with Lyme disease which she contracted back in 2009 in Germany after unknowingly being bitten by a tick.
But that was after Jessica had already spent more than £30,000 trying to treat some of the things she was diagnosed with by selling her sports car and using her life savings.
After her searching for her symptoms online, Jessica, of Welwyn Garden City, Herts., made the tragic discovery that she had Lyme disease
She said: “Nobody was connecting the dots and I wasn’t connecting the dots.
“I just knew as soon as I started reading about Lyme disease online.
“I feel devastated and I feel incredibly let down by the NHS. All these years I’ve had what would have been a treatable disease if it was correctly diagnosed but instead I’ve lost the best years of my life, a promising career and endured untold suffering with no help or support.
“For years I’ve felt ridiculed and made to feel like it’s in my head, I couldn’t get anyone to listen and the more I was told it was ‘depression’ or ‘stress’ the angrier I got.
“I was an athlete in peak shape, I know my body, I know it well, I knew there was something seriously wrong with me physically.
“The fact that an insect, something I’ve never even seen, could be responsible for this much devastation is incomprehensible.
“I was a bright young women, driven, with crazy ambition. I had international business plans and I felt like I had the world at my feet.
“I had to drop out of my post graduate studies, I lost the ability to read or learn and have watched my personality slip away.”
Jessica first went to the doctors on her return from Germany where she was working in 2009 and she presented with the typical flu-like symptoms.
Even when she asked doctors if it was anything to do with her time abroad, her questions were ignored and she spent the next few years never living a symptom free life.
The bacterial infection which is spread to humans by ticks can be treated effectively if it’s caught early – but you can develop severe and long-lasting symptoms if undetected.
But due to Jessica not seeing a sign of the tick, as one in three people with Lyme disease won’t develop the rash to make itself known, she didn’t realise.
So she attempted to try and live a relatively normal life but it suddenly went downhill for Jessica very quickly.
Lightning struck twice when Jessica was bitten by a second tick causing her health to rapidly deteriorate.
She never thought anything of the circular rash which was left by the tick in 2012 until a couple of years later when she researched the disease.
But that second tick bite caused her health to rapidly deteriorate.
She developed neurological problems including severe memory loss, disorientation and seizures.
Jessica even suffered stroke like symptoms and wasn’t able to communicate with people alongside having severe migraines.
But still she was faced with another false diagnosis which over the years have ranged from depression to irritable bowel syndrome – with some doctors even telling her to learn to live her problems.
The disease can show itself with flu-like symptoms in the early stages such as tiredness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, a high temperature, chills and neck stiffness.
Jessica had all of these which then worsened after her second tick bite.
Her brain functions began to deteriorate and her savvy self slowly slipped away after the infection spread through her body into her central nervous system.
By 2014 she was living in extreme pain. She could no longer get up the stairs and had to use a walking aid – but spent most of her time bed-ridden.
Not taking their most recent diagnosis of chronic fatigue and a condition which causes pain all over the body, she took to the net where she came across Lyme disease.
Jessica then paid for extensive private testing for Lyme disease along with all of the co-infections it comes with.
She also had blood analysis tests done at a specialist lab in Germany to get a full insight into what she was facing.
Her case was then investigated after positive private tests led to the NHS doing further testing where she was eventually diagnosed.
Lyme Disease Action were called in and Jessica started undergoing treatment through strong intravenous antibiotics.
Jessica’s partner, Matt Crane, 27, has been trained to administer an intravenous drip to her at home everyday.
He said witnessing what his partner is going through has been heartbreaking and he had to get over his needle phobia.
The couple also want to start a family together but they aren’t able to as Jessica is so unwell at the moment.
Matt said: “It’s a big responsibility but it makes me feel like I am doing something positive to help her.
“With the seizures they are like something out of the exorcist and to helplessly watch is very heart breaking.
“But to see her so unwell every day breaks my heart. To feel as though you can’t really do anything for the one you love, leaves you helpless.
“We talk about the excitement of our future where we will want to have children and enjoy our lives together but to know that might not be a possibility is devastating for us both.
“To have something so precious potentially cruelly ripped from her is despicable. The gift of motherhood should not be determined by a tick.”
Jessica had forged a successful career for herself as a sporting athlete, nutritionist, fitness model, competitor and by writing for fitness magazines.
She also ran a personal training business, had been an international horse trainer and was involved in Olympic dressage.
Before getting the diagnosis she tried to live a normal life and trained for an ultra marathon despite her dwindling health.
But Jessica was told that if she continued to train she would cause lasting cell and tissue damage and could end up in a wheel chair.
So she had to give up her successful career when she had just closed deals on several pro athletes joining her books for coaching.
After closing her business down, she was forced to drop her post graduate studies as she was unable to read or process information.
Jessica also shut down her social media sites as she felt as though she was living a lie by putting on a brave face when she was so ill.
She said: “I went through a phase where I had to deactivate my social media because I felt this responsibility to all the people who followed me that I was this inspirational person.
“But behind closed doors I was just so unwell. I felt depressed, this was not the life I wanted for myself.
“I felt like I had the world at my feet and I was so excited about my future. I always thought I was destined to do stuff with my life and everything got taken away.”
Now the couple are desperately trying to raise funds for Jessica to visit a specialist doctor in America to try and get intensive treatment for the infections.
Elsewhere in the world care can include extensive drug, herbal and supplement treatment and Jessica has heard of people going into remission after 12-18 months of this.
No one can tell her if the damage has gone to far and whether it’s reversible or not after having the infections for over six years.
Jessica is currently being treated in Stoke on Trent where she has to attend numerous weekly visits as she has tested positive for eight different infections so far.
It’s estimated there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease in England and Wales each year. About 15 per cent of cases occur while people are abroad.
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Took 23 doctors and more than 15 years for me to get correctly diagnosed. This area of medicine is a disaster.