By Alyce Collins
THIS PATIENT being treated for depression for five years because bungling medics believed she felt attention-starved was shocked to discover she in fact was suffering from Lyme disease.
Mikayla Vacher (23) from Rhode Island was officially diagnosed with Lyme disease when she was just eighteen years old, however by then the disease had already been in her body for six years after doctors repeatedly turned her away. As a result, she can no longer play hockey or keep up with her friends due to the treatments she has to endure.
If left untreated the disease, caused by a tick bite, can lead to total loss of motor and sensory function – a form of paralysis – as the disease would have spread throughout the entire body.
For ten years Mikayla has suffered from rashes, severe migraines, aching joints, fatigue and neurological symptoms such as depression. Despite being told by medical professionals that it was all in her head, or that she wanted the attention, Mikayla stood by her judgement that there was something seriously wrong.
Mikayla was later referred to a neurologist who attempted to resolve the mystery symptoms with all kinds of medication, including anxiety and migraine relief. Countless brain scans also showed no clear results, and she was forced to see a therapist because the doctors were convinced she was depressed and was refusing to admit it.
Years later, Mikayla’s neurologist finally tested her for Lyme disease, which came back positive. This may have put an end to her quest for answers, but it was only the start of her new lifestyle and acceptance.
“At first I was so relieved to finally have answers and to be able to show all of those who didn’t believe that I was sick, that I was right” Mikayla said.
“I’m a very strong person, but when you have so many people, many you thought loved you, ignoring you and putting you down of course you start to believe it.
“You lose yourself and any self-esteem you may have had. It’s abuse, point blank, and it’s wrong.”
Since her diagnosis, Mikayla’s world has altered entirely from what she once knew. Her chronic disability has limited her physically; however, it has broadened her mental philosophy greatly.
Photographs show Mikayla during hospital appointments, plugged into machines and having needles put in her arm for blood samples. A large rash down her back, a common symptom of Lyme disease, is also captured.
“With receiving my diagnosis came a huge amount of grief and loss. The loss of friends, family, school, sports, dreams, which were all a big part of ‘me.’
“I always knew I was meant to be a mom but also I wanted to make it through nursing school and find my fairy-tale life like anyone else – but I’m now about to be 24 and none of that is close to reality.
“I needed to ‘mourn’ the loss of my very high expectations but I’m thankful for the life Lyme disease has brought me and for the struggles because I have been able to rediscover myself.
“I had to go through a lot of self-recognition and accept this new life I was about to lead.”
“Lyme disease has changed the person I am today. I never take a second for granted and I’ve learned to slow down and really enjoy all of life’s little moments.
“I knew I would never let my illness control my life, but I did have to understand that there were always going to be set backs with having a chronic illness.
“I wish people would recognize how far a little act of support and kindness really goes. I’d like to say I am strong enough to deal with this all on my own but that would be a lie – I need the support of others.
“Be kind because you never know what someone is hiding behind his or her smile.”
“No one should have to go through an illness alone and I was one of those people at times. I want to be that person for someone else going through that rough patch.”
Mikayla is now able to inspire others with her positive outlook on chronic illness and Lyme disease and she urges others to remain as strong as she was forced to be when doctors refused to listen to her.
“I was given this crazy life for a reason and Lyme disease has given me a purpose to spread awareness and make a difference.
“Always advocate for yourself and make sure your voice is heard. Only YOU know your body, your needs, and what’s best for you.
“Listen to your gut and be confident in yourself and your choices.”
“Falling ill taught me that life isn’t about your accomplishments or failures; it’s about living. I’m thankful for my illness because it’s taught me to live my life and take everything as it comes.”
To find out more about Mikayla’s inspirational journey, you can see her Instagram page.
For more information see www.mediadrumworld.com