Mum-of-three Tracy Clarkson has been struck down twice with meningitis, been forced to have a hysterectomy, lost the use of her legs and suffers regular tinnitus and headaches – all after being bitten by a tick while out for a walk.
Tracy, 40, has tested positive for Lyme disease and is now fighting to raise awareness of the debilitating illness which she says has ruined her life.
Tracy, who lives in Vale Road, Lancaster, was bitten on the leg while heavily pregnant with her son in 2004.
Tracy, who has two daughters, aged 21 and 18, and a 10-year-old son, said: “I had gone for a walk in Arnside and got bitten by a tick on the top of my leg. I hadn’t seen it but a few weeks later my mum, who used to be a nurse, spotted it.
“After that everything started to go wrong with me. I would get lots of infections – I got tonsillitis every month, I had meningitis twice, and also encephalitis.”
Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints and muscles, as well as the heart and nervous system. The most common symptom is a pink or red circular rash that develops around the area of the bite, three to 30 days after being bitten.
Social worker Tracy’s life is a continuous battle against numerous symptoms.
She said: “It starts in your blood and you can feel all right and then suddenly it will trigger something again.
“I have chronic fatigue and have been diagnosed with ME.
“I struggle to walk, I get severe headaches and my throat blisters.
“I get bladder infections and I am going deaf in one ear.”
Tracy now wants to raise awareness of the severity of the disease.
She said: “Very few people know the dangers of Lyme disease. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I have been through. It has ruined my life.”