Tweed Lyme disease sufferers closer to recognition
BANORA Point resident Malcolm Ross hopes that he and dozens of other sufferers of Lyme disease on the Northern Rivers will no longer be treated as mentally ill now that Australian medical authorities have taken the first step towards acknowledging that the condition exists.
A national clinical advisory group dedicated to sorting out the bureaucratic mess of Lyme diagnosis has announced it will progress to a formal diagnosis path in 2014.
Even though the tick-borne illness is treated in 80 countries, NSW Health has denied its existence until now, meaning that people could see countless GPs, emergency departments and specialists without receiving treatment.
Mr Ross says a proper diagnosis will mean he will no longer have to endure the pain and humiliation of being left out on the road by hospital staff to suffer through a seizure.
The 48-year-old says his health problems began in 2008 after a tick bite which developed into a bulls-eye rash - a tell-tale sign of a Lyme-infected bite.
"At first I had joint pain and I couldn't get my head off the pillow for days and after a few months I started getting seizures," he said.
"I went to Tweed Hospital and was in there for weeks.
"They found nothing, so they said I had had pseudo-seizures and it was all in my head."
Mr Ross said he got his Lyme diagnosis in late 2012, after he sought out a 'fringe doctor' willing to put his registration on the line to diagnose Lyme using American blood tests.
In December his doctor was banned by the national medical board from treating Lyme.
"I was the last person he was seeing. I'm now on the proper antibiotic treatment and the seizures have stopped," Mr Ross said.
The Northern Rivers Lyme Network has 30 members and conducts meetings in Tweed and Byron.