Aaron's brave battle with Lyme disease

It's been a long and difficult year for Adele Sharman's son Aaron who only recently started treatment for Lyme disease. Aaron is not well enough to attend school so he is home-schooled by his mum and likes to make origami when he has the energy.

It's been a long and difficult year for Adele Sharman's son Aaron who only recently started treatment for Lyme disease. Aaron is not well enough to attend school so he is home-schooled by his mum and likes to make origami when he has the energy.

Being sick is not much fun, especially when you're usually an active 11-year-old boy who has been sick for more than a year.

Aaron Sharman was bitten by a tick in April last year when playing with his brother in his Linden backyard. His mum Adele removed the tick and a GP checked out the bite, confirming the head had been removed.

But a month later Aaron mentioned his legs were always tired and his ankles were sore, but there were no signs of swelling. Progressively the tiredness and joint pain increased and Aaron was diagnosed with glandular fever with chronic fatigue.

He didn't improve with rest, and weeks passed and the joint pain travelled up his legs to his knees and hips. He found it difficult to walk more than 10 steps.

"He was a very unwell boy, it was heartbreaking to see our son so unwell without any clear reason why," Mrs Sharman said.

Eventually a Blaxland GP diagnosed him with Lyme disease a bacterial infection transferred from ticks and difficult to diagnose as it mimics other diseases.

In Australia, treating Lyme disease is expensive and it is not covered by Medicare as there is some controversy over its existence in Australia, despite the Lyme Disease Association of Australia noting thousands of diagnosed cases in the country.

A government committee is currently undertaking further research to investigate the existence of the disease in Australia.

As Australia doesn't have the facilities to test for Lyme disease, Aaron had blood samples taken and sent to the US, which confirmed he had the disease.

Aaron finally started the long, complex treatment for Lyme disease just six weeks ago, and takes 23 capsules a day. This mixture of antibiotics, anti-parasitic medication and supplements counter the Herx reaction, brought on by the tick's bacteria in the person's bloodstream dying off from the medication, and the person becoming toxic from the "garbage of the dead bacteria in the bloodstream", making the person feel worse before they feel better. As Aaron sees it, the tablets "are a bit of a drag, but they make me feel a lot better".

To date, the family has spent $5000 investigating, getting a diagnosis and finally treating the disease. Then there's a $600 bill each month for the concoction of pills Aaron must take.

"Aaron's amazing he just gets on with it, he accepts that he has to swallow capsules every few hours. He's taken up origami, making wonderful creations with paper, in between doing home school, when he has the energy," said his dad, David.

"Aaron has always been a positive kid," Mrs Sharman said. "Aaron looked at what he could do straight away and not what he couldn't do and didn't labour on that."

Aaron has been so sick that he couldn't attend school, so his mum gave up part-time work to school him at home.

His family is hopeful he will make a full recovery and in a couple of months gradually begin attending school again.

Mrs Sharman said the public must be aware of the damage ticks can do.

"The community need to be aware that ticks can sometimes make you very sick, whether you call it Lyme disease or not is irrelevant, and that testing for this should be here in Australia. The quicker you get a diagnosis the easier the treatment," she said.

The University of Sydney is also doing a study into tick-borne diseases. For more information contact Dr Ann Mitrovic on 9351 3217 or email ann.mitrovic@sydney.edu.au

For more information on Lyme disease visit lymedisease.org.au

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