A WOMAN left bed-ridden for EIGHT YEARS after being bitten by a tick has written a book about her illness battle.
Morven-May MacCallum, 25, was robbed of her teenage years when she contracted Lyme Disease from the insect.
She has been living with the bacterial infection for almost a decade.
At one point Morven-May — from the Black Isle, Ester Ross — was so unwell she could barely speak, watch TV or walk to the bathroom without help from her mum Jean, 55.
She says: “When I was 15 the symptoms really became permanent and they were multiplying.
“I had to drop out of school at 16 because the symptoms were becoming so overpowering. I struggled to even watch TV because I couldn’t understand what was happening. I started having difficulty forming words. I had problems with my memory.
“My mum would have to carry me from one room to another. I was like a very frail, elderly person.
“I was virtually housebound for about eight years. It was absolutely devastating because I had plans to go to university and do nursing.
“It was incredibly lonely and isolating. This disease really does suffocate you and it’s devastating.”
Morven-May said she doesn’t remember getting the bite but first came down with severe, flu-like symptoms when she was 14.
She sought help from her local GP but doctors thought she had a fatigue-linked illness. Eventually, in 2012, a medic from a private clinic in London told Morven-May she had borrelia bacteria in her body.
Her family has since spent tens of thousands of pounds on various treatments including high doses of antibiotics and intermuscular injections in both hips twice a week.
Morven-May adds: “It’s taken a very long time to see even small improvements but over the past year I’ve improved so much.”
But now Morven-May wants her story to raise awareness.
Infection’s long-term harm
LYME Disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks.
Many people with early symptoms of the disease develop a circular red skin rash around a tick bite.
Signs of the illness — which has affected celebs Bella Hadid and Ben Stiller — include a high temperature, mental fog, headaches, muscle and joint pain, tiredness and loss of energy.
Long-term effects of the disease, which hits around 1,000 people in the UK each year, can include inflammation of the heart, nerve damage and arthritis, particularly in the knees.
Ticks that may cause Lyme Disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk areas include grassy and wooded areas in southern England and the Highlands.
It’s usually easier to treat the horrific disease it is diagnosed early.
Her fictional novel, Finding Joy, features a woman who suffers from Lyme Disease and looks at the disease from her perspective as well as that of her mum and her best friend.
Morven-May says: “I’m not well enough to work so the book is really good because it gives me a project and it’s not too demanding.
“It’s based from three different perspectives because it didn’t just affect my life, my mum essentially had to give up her life and become my carer.”
Last week she travelled to the Scottish Parliament to mark Lyme Disease awareness month and was supported by more than 70 MSPs.
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Morven-May continued: “It’s been a battle and I think it could be a lifelong disease because it was left untreated for so long. Thankfully I have a group of friends who still come visit me and I can go out sometimes with them now too.”
She adds: “The book hasn’t been therapeutic. It’s incredibly painful writing about this terrible monster residing inside of me. I just hope one day I can fully recover from this horrible disease.”
Finding Joy is available in bookstores and on Amazon UK.