By Josh Saunders
A mum-to-be is overcoming a horrifying hidden illness that left her in agonising pain, involuntarily shakes, stroke-like symptoms and more – thanks to her baby
Celeste Clancy, 28, from Acworth in Georgia, USA, has suffered with the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease for two years.
She believes to have 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.
At its worst, the auto-immune disease left her with alternating symptoms from uncontrollable full body tremors and muscle spasms to being unable to walk, incapable of talking and a range of other problems.
She made videos to detail her shocking symptoms to show the doctors who struggled to diagnose her until late last year, when they started her on medication.
But miraculously, her symptoms vanished without explanation in December and later Celeste discovered she was pregnant.
Doctors believe her pregnancy hormones are countering the damage caused by Lyme disease and now 19-weeks pregnant the mum-to-be is crediting her son with saving her life.
Celeste, a project manager, said: “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.
“I went from being 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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“So 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.”
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 to Lyme disease, some of them Celeste has suffered include intolerable pain, spasms, stroke-like-symptoms, fleeting deafness, tinnitus and more.
Celeste said: “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.
“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.”
In addition to recurrent ‘brain fog’, where Celeste was unable to think clearly, remember where she was nor what she was doing.
Celeste said: “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.
“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 bit 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.
Celeste said: “I had muscle spasms and joint pain all day every day for 18 months before I knew what it was.
“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.
For some patients, it is believed that the hormones produced during pregnancy can stop the effects of Lyme Disease.
Celeste is now celebrating her symptom-free time thanks to her son who is due in September this year
Celeste said: “I’ve gone from suffering from severe problems and not having any diagnosis to a miracle.
“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.”
Dorothy Leland, Vice President, education and outreach of LymeDisease.org, said: “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.
“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 who is a part of multiple Lyme Disease groups on social media says she has encountered a situation where someone with the disease finds their symptoms cured during pregnancy.
She said: “What I have heard is that pregnancy changes the hormones and additionally Lyme Disease changes the hormones.
“Specially 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.
Dr. Christine Green, a Lyme Disease Expert, says she has not seen a mum-to-be ‘cured’ of Lyme Disease symptoms during her studies of 11 pregnant women with the disease.
She said: “What I watch for is symptoms coming up then we monitor tests during the pregnancy and if they develop symptoms that are suggestive of activation of Lyme disease, I suggest take they antibiotics.
“During pregnancy the immune system changes, we are mammals and are unique that we carry inside their body foreign DNA for nine months while baby develops, that’s dangerous as we generally reject anything that’s foreign to us.
“So our immune system changes slightly, the surveillance of the immune system the antibody arm works hard during pregnancy for anything that might be a problem but the go out and kill the immune system is turned down a little.
“There are a lot of changes happen very quickly during early pregnancy, in the beginning they have high hormonal output, it’s known as being a blissful trimester people very happy not sure explanation why it disappeared with the onset of pregnancy.”
For more information on the condition visit: www.lymedisease.org
To follow Celeste’s progress visit here.