‘I used to be a beauty queen, now I’m bed bound due to debilitating illness’
Kirstie Haysman, a former beauty queen who once graced the stages of Miss Great Britain and Miss London City pageants, has been left bedbound. At just 34 years old, Kirstie’s life has taken an unexpected turn, as she battles the effects of Lyme disease.
Kirstie, mother to 11-year-old daughter Harriet, first began experiencing symptoms in 2015. Initially, doctors attributed her symptoms to a possible infection or auto-immune condition.
However, after years of struggling and feeling dissatisfied with the diagnosis, Kirstie took matters into her own hands. She travelled to Mexico for blood tests, where she received the shocking news she had Lyme disease.
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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans through the bites of infected ticks.
It can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- high temperature
- muscle and joint pain
Kirstie is determined to raise awareness about this condition and encourage others who may be suffering from mysterious symptoms to seek testing.
Kirstie, from Watford, said: “[If the infection had been diagnosed] it could have cleared up in 28 days with antibiotics – now my body is shutting down and my husband has to pick me up to use the toilet and have a bath. I was doing high intensity training before, I was very fit and it’s now at the point where when I wake up my entire body is weak and hurts everywhere.
“I pray it gets better so I can walk around – I’ve been outside twice in last the six weeks, other than that my life is in bed. This all could have been avoided if they’d done a simple Lyme test.”
Kirstie believes her symptoms first appeared in 2015, manifesting as fatigue and joint pain. After consulting with a rheumatologist, she was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder and prescribed high doses of steroids.
Unfortunately, her health continued to deteriorate, with her hands becoming disfigured and her joints swollen and painful. Despite undergoing numerous blood tests, no significant issues were detected, leading doctors to believe she had an autoimmune disease.
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In an attempt to manage her condition, doctors prescribed long-term steroid use to suppress Kirstie’s immune system. However, she now believes this approach exacerbated her condition.
Further tests revealed the prolonged use of steroids had caused her bones to deteriorate, with a rheumatologist comparing her bone health to that of a 70-year-old. Kirstie continues to struggle with discontinuing the use of steroids due to their long-term effects.
In January 2023, an acquaintance suggested Kirstie’s symptoms might be indicative of Lyme disease. Intrigued, she began researching the condition and decided to travel to Mexico for specific blood tests in February.
The results confirmed her suspicions, and upon returning to the UK, Kirstie embarked on a 12-month course of three different antibiotics to combat the illness. She has also explored herbal remedies in her quest for recovery. Despite these efforts, Kirstie still faces challenges in finding doctors who truly understand the complexities of Lyme disease.
Kirstie said: “It wasn’t until this year that I met someone who said, ‘Do you think you’ve got Lyme disease?’.
“I’d been taking steroids, living on pain killers and had tried every low inflammation diet you can think of.
“I just assumed I had an autoimmune disease like Lupus – Lyme is called ‘the great imitator’ because it imitates these autoimmune conditions.
“I’m bedbound and I had to give up my job as a healthcare professional, I was a chiropodist and couldn’t use my hands anymore.
“My daughter is going for a blood test for Lyme disease – doctors don’t normally offer the test for under 16s but because it’s in the family they’ve agreed to see her.
“I want to get the word out that if you have autoimmune conditions or rheumatic disease to get tested for Lyme.
“It’s so frustrating – in your mind you want to be working and socialising but you’re stuck in body that can’t work.”
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