A bug bite put me in a wheelchair

How a trip to paradise went horribly wrong for this young woman
Amy Kennedy

A young Queensland woman was left paralysed after a trip to Thailand went horribly wrong.

Amy Kennedy, 27, was on a dream holiday with her friend when she suddenly fell ill during her trip.

At first, she thought she may have contracted food poisoning, but when she broke out in angry red hives, Amy began to panic.

It wasn’t until she arrived back in Australia days later that she was rushed to hospital by her mother. There, doctors believed Amy to be dehydrated, so she was hooked up to an IV drip before being discharged.

Amy in Thailand (Credit: Amy Kennedy)

But a month later, when Amy caught a glimpse of her reflection, she was completely shocked.

‘My face was droopy and my eyes were half shut,’ she said. ‘Reaching up to my face, I realised I couldn’t even feel it!’

Back at the doctor’s surgery, a GP insisted Amy was suffering from Bell’s Palsy and that it should resolve itself in time.

Doctors thought Amy had Bell’s Palsy (Credit: Amy Kennedy)

Over the next few weeks, Amy’s face had returned to normal. But each time she became run down, her face would become paralysed again.

It wasn’t until Amy relocated back to Brisbane that she sought another opinion about her ongoing condition.

After explaining her symptoms, Amy’s new doctor suggested she be tested for Lyme Disease. ‘There’s a chance you were bitten by a tick overseas,’ he explained. 

And just four weeks later, the results were in. ‘I’m afraid you’ve got Lyme Disease,’ the doctor admitted.

(Credit: Amy Kennedy)

Since Lyme Disease isn’t recognised by the Australian Medical Association, Amy and her mother immediately began searching for a treatment overseas, when they stumbled across the Fach Klinic in Germany.

The clinic offered hyperthermia treatment, but costing around $10,000, there was no way the pair could afford to give it a go. So instead, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for Amy’s treatment.

As Amy’s symptoms worsened, she soon found herself unable to drive and relying heavily on a wheelchair.

(Credit: Amy Kennedy)

Incredibly, in just nine months, generous strangers had raised enough money for Amy to travel overseas to undergo hyperthermia treatment.

Once there, her core body temperature was heated to over 40 degrees using an infrared light to kill the bacteria in her body. 

Amazingly, just six months and several treatments later, doctors confirmed that Amy no longer had the disease in her brain or spine.

During hyperthermia treatment (Credit: Amy Kennedy)

‘Although Lyme Disease remains in my blood, it’s now under control,’ Amy admits.

Almost five years on from her trip to Thailand, Amy longer needs her wheelchair or walking stick and was recently able to get her licence reinstated.

‘Finally my dark days are over and my life has been re-shaped,’ Amy added.

Originally published in Issue 1 of that’s life! magazine – January 5, 2017.

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