Man shares his story about dealing with Lyme disease

Published: May. 22, 2019 at 6:35 PM EDT
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In 2006, Patrick White says his life really started changing.

"The first sign that something wasn't right was 2006," said White. "I remember the date because it was my wife's birthday. I slept all day on her birthday, which was totally odd. That was the first sign. There were other things. Bone pain, odd bone pain. I'm 44, and this started when I was in my early 30s. It was odd to have that pain. I always worked in construction, was in the Marine Corps but never experienced this type of pain."

White developed a lot of different health issues.

"The mood swings. Rage was the worst part of it," White said. "I'd get so angry over some of the smallest things. From there, it started to kind of spiral. Depression started. I got really depressed."

He was left in the dark for years though, not knowing what was causing all of his problems. It was one misdiagnosis after another for him because his symptoms mimicked a lot of other illnesses.

"I had no idea what was going on," White said. "I just knew I was in so much pain. It got to the point when I would walk, it felt like my bones were like glass and they were going to snap and break. It was through my whole body."

It wasn't until around 2014 when one of his doctors brought up the possibility of Lyme disease. White was tested and it came back positive.

"I didn't know anything about Lyme at that time," White said. "It wasn't even a thought in our head that could happen."

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. Typically, a rash will develop around the site of the bite, called a bulls-eye rash. Aside from that symptom, there are no other symptoms specific to Lyme disease.

However, White says he didn't develop a rash.

Other common symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches.

"I never saw the bulls-eye rash," White said. "I can't remember getting flu-like symptoms. I can't ever remember getting sick like that."

Many times, Lyme disease isn't diagnosed immediately because people don't realize they have been bitten. If it's not diagnosed immediately, the bacteria can spread throughout the body and cause a number of different health issues.

However, many of those symptoms can mimic other diseases and infections, which is why Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose.

White says after his diagnosis, he finally felt he had some answers. He still doesn't know exactly when he was bitten.

Typically, Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics if it is caught early.

However, White received a late diagnosis and is still feeling the effects of it.

"I still have seizures," White said. "I still have memory loss. But, I am able to get out walking now and can help around the house."

He is undergoing a treatment now called immunotherapy. He credits the treatment for giving him a big part of his life back.

"Where I am at now, I am extremely happy," White said. "It feels good. I feel like I have my life back."

White has now turned to art and support groups to help him on his journey forward. He is making it his mission to raise awareness about Lyme disease.

"Since I have started getting better, I really push this awareness because I don't want to see anyone go through this," White said. "I am petrified of ticks now. I am constantly on the lookout when we go in the woods. I know that little thing that is the size of a poppy seed will change and destroy your life. You have to be diligent with your body checks. You have to check yourself constantly."

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.