A mum-to-be is overcoming a horrifying hidden illness that left her in agonising pain, thanks to her unborn baby.
Celeste Clancy, 28, from Acworth in Georgia, USA, had suffered with the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease for two years.
She believes she contracted the disease from a tick bite in August 2014 during a trip to Salem, Connecticut – a state where there are over 30,000 new diagnoses each year.
“I [was] very ill, where I was in so much pain I couldn’t walk and had to crawl up the stairs, it got to a point where my body seemed worthless," Celeste, a project manager, said.
"The pain was just torturous, you’re in so much pain you can’t calm down it just hurts so bad, some of the worst phases can last for up to four hours."
At its worst, the auto-immune disease left her with a range of symptoms from uncontrollable full-body tremors and muscle spasms, to being unable to walk, incapable of talking and a range of other problems.
Doctors struggled to diagnose Celeste until late last year, when they started her on medication.
"I had symptoms ranging from tinnitus, fleeting hearing loss, chronic pain, muscle spasms, brain fog, chronic fatigue, the inability to sound two syllable words and more," she said.
But miraculously, her symptoms vanished without explanation in December and later Celeste discovered she was pregnant.
“When the symptoms stopped in December, I just sat in silence with my husband and cried tears of relief, for the first time in two years, I was not in excruciating pain," she said.
“I didn’t think I was pregnant because I was on birth control, but took the test anyway, it came back positive and then the next four did too."
Doctors believe her pregnancy hormones are countering the damage caused by Lyme disease and now at 19 weeks pregnant the mum-to-be is crediting her son with saving her life.
"It’s believed that pregnancy hormones somehow halt the bacteria in my body and since then I’ve not suffered from one single symptom of Lyme Disease," Celeste explained.
"For the type of pain I was in, there wasn’t any medication and no doctor I met, who could give me any form of relief."
Now Celeste feels like she's been given a second chance by her baby son.
"To think this little baby who I haven’t met yet, is giving me the relief I longed for is incredible, I totally feel like this baby has saved my life,” she said.
Celeste was unaware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and dismissed a rash on her inner thigh, believed to be caused by the disease, as a reaction to washing detergent or dry skin.
Her first symptom was an ‘unusual, severe aching’ in her lower back, which later worsened and other symptoms arose.
There are more than 300 different symptoms associated with Lyme disease.
"Every day I was suffering three to seven symptoms on average. At times, I can hardly concentrate through the pain, I can barely get out of bed because it is so unbearable," Celeste said.
“Some days, just to travel around the house I’ve had to use a neck pillow, my muscles were so weak that I couldn’t lift my head and had to be carried around by my husband Shane.”
Celeste also experienced recurrent "brain fog", where she was unable to think clearly, remember where she was or understand what she was doing.
"I suffered severe brain fog, which could manifest as me forgetting what I was talking about mid conversation and being at a loss for words, incapable of talking about something different," she said.
"At one point, I didn’t know how to turn my car on and was once so disorientated that at a gas station I didn’t know why I was there or what I needed to do."
Despite visiting five chiropractors, two orthopaedists, investigations from infectious disease specialists, rheumatologists, neurologists, and a trip to the emergency room, nothing was revealed until September 2016.
Her fifth chiropractor was suspicious of her severe discomfort and asked if she had ever been bitten by a tick, encouraging Celeste to get tested for Lyme.
She started on antibiotic treatment to blitz some of the bacteria in her body and alleviate some of her symptoms.
"I had muscle spasms and joint pain all day every day for 18 months before I knew what it was," Celeste said.
"In some ways, I am beyond thankful that my chiropractor warned me about Lyme disease. The results were scary, but a relief for something to validate why I was in so much pain."
But in December, her symptoms stopped, which she would later discover was due to falling pregnant.
Celeste is now celebrating her symptom-free time thanks to her son who is due in September this year.
"I’ve gone from suffering from severe problems and not having any diagnosis to a miracle," Celeste said.
"I’ve relished the pain-free moments that I’ve been given and am just so thankful to not be suffering pain any more. It’s really incredible, I can’t describe how thankful I am for the relief and for my husband who was by my side every step of the way."
What is Lyme Disease?
"The most common way it’s transmitted is from the bite of an infected tick – if you are outside and a tick gets on you and bites you it could pass on the infection," Dorothy Leland, Vice President, education and outreach of LymeDisease.org, said.
"The most typical initial symptoms occur relatively soon after you feel like you’re having the flu, feel achy or tired, nauseated and other sickness symptoms.
"They may seem like common symptoms but if you have also had a tick bite then there could be a correlation.
"If a person knows they have been bitten by a tick they need to pay attention to see if they have other symptoms.
“Ideally if you have the tic imbedded in you it’s best to remove it with pointy tweezers and contain it so that you can have ticks tested for Lyme disease and other infections."
Dorothy says she has encountered other situations where someone with the disease finds their symptoms cured during pregnancy – only to return after the birth.
"What I have heard is that pregnancy changes the hormones and additionally Lyme Disease changes the hormones," Dorothy said.
“I remember one person telling me when she was pregnant all of her symptoms seemed to clear up, but after the baby was born they came back."
For more information on the condition visit: [www.lymedisease.org|www.lymedisease.org]
To follow Celeste’s progress visit: [www.keepingupwiththeclancys.blogspot.com|www.keepingupwiththeclancys.blogspot.com]