Woman who felt tired diagnosed with condition that's 'shutting her body down'
Former beauty queen Kirstie Haysman first started experiencing pain in her joints and fatigue back in 2015.
When the now-34-year-old visited a rheumatologist, she says she was told she had a connective tissue disorder and was prescribed a high dose of steroids.
But her health continued to deteriorate.
Since her blood tests didn’t show any abnormalities, doctors figured she was suffering from an automimmune disease.
Kirstie spent the next eight years trying to get better, but has been left barely able to leave her house, and said her body is now ‘shutting down’.
It wasn’t until this year that she finally got a correct diagnosis – Lyme disease.
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 the last six weeks, other than that my life is in bed.
‘This all could have been avoided if they’d done a simple Lyme test.’
Before her diagnosis, the mum-of-one said her hands became ‘disfigured’ thanks to painful swollen joints, and she was unable to pick things up.
In their attempts to treat her, doctors tried to suppress her immune system, but Kirstie now thinks this actually made things worse.
On top of that, further tests showed that her long-term steroid use had caused her to bones deteriorate, with a rheumatologist going so far as to say she has ‘the bones of a 70-year-old’.
But due to her long-term use, Kirstie, who competed in Miss Great Britain and Miss London City pageants, and was crowned Miss Hertfordshire in 2015, says she’s struggling to stop taking them.
Then, in 2023, an acquaintance suggested she might be suffering from Lyme disease.
Kirstie started researching the condition, and even went all the way to Mexico for blood tests specifically for the disease in February. To her shock, the results were positive.
Lyme disease causes a high temperature and fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and tiredness. It’s a bacterial infection that spreads to humans through infected ticks.
Now, as she tried to find doctors who understand how to treat it, Kirstie wants to raise awareness of the disease.
She 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 painkillers, 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 bed-bound, 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 a body that can’t work.’
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