'I wanted to end my life' - A woman’s story of her horrific battle with Lyme Disease
One in five people who suffer from Lyme Disease don’t survive
The chronic pain, severe fatigue and feelings of depression caused by Lyme Disease made a woman consider travelling to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland to end her life.
Clare McCahill was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2006 while living and working in the Algarve, Portugal.
A year later she returned home to Donegal to be with friends and family as her symptoms gradually worsened.
“I wasn’t well enough to work, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t function mentally in any capacity and my partner had to constantly take care of me,” she told Independent.ie.
Lyme’s is a bacterial disease transmitted by ticks which causes some people to develop a rash and suffer from swollen joints and glands.
Tiredness, severe headaches and loss of movement in parts of the face are also symptoms of the disease.
“At the start it felt like a very bad flu, but then I started to develop pains and headaches like I had never experienced in my life.
“I was so frustrated that I couldn’t do things, even simple things like holding a pen. I couldn’t play a guitar, couldn’t use a camera, couldn’t brush my teeth and I would get so angry and aggressive, I would be screaming the house down with frustration,” she said.
Clare works as a photographer and is big into exercising and fitness, so the disease took a devastating toll on her life.
“I used to be a runner. I worked in a yard exercising racehorses outside of my day job simply because I love horses and I loved the level of physical fitness I was able to achieve.
“A healthy lifestyle has always been important to me. You can imagine how devastating it was to have my body ravaged by Lyme Disease and pumped with medication.”
At one point, she was feeling so low, she looked into the possibility of travelling to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland.
The pain had become unbearable and she could no longer do any of the activities she enjoyed.
“When I was really ill at the start, I knew that it could be fatal or that I could be incapacitated and I didn’t want to be a burden on my family and partner. I didn’t want to live my life, I wanted to end it.”
Thanks to the help of her friends and family, Clare overcame her battle with the disease and is now “back to normality”.
“My sister, Dee, stepped up in 2012 and took control of my nutrition, my non-existent physical activity and my mindset. I am fortunate to have one of Northern Ireland's top personal trainers in my family and the holistic support she gave me put me firmly back on my feet. It was a long journey but I am now able to manage my symptoms through looking after myself.”
Clare has now also qualified as a personal trainer and is back doing what she loves.
She hopes to one day work with other Lyme’s sufferers and help them get back on track, just like her sister did for her.
The Donegal woman also hopes that medical professionals in Ireland give more recognition to the condition.
Last week up to 200 people affected by Lyme’s held a rally outside the Dail to highlight the disease.
“The biggest issue is that infection in Ireland, there are particular pockets, Kerry is very bad and also around Wicklow so people need to know that it is not just something you can get in America or Europe, you can pick it up here.”
Clare originally spoke about her experience with the disease to the Donegal Democrat, saying: "I feel lucky now but at some point, I felt so bad that I thought about going to Switzerland. I went as far as researching the process.
"Depression is a huge issue for people with Lyme disease. Despite the emotional trauma of losing the best years of my life, home, family, friends, career and more, I am lucky. Not lucky to be alive, lucky to have had the medical care I needed, when I needed it."
You can learn more about Lyme's Disease here: http://ticktalkireland.org