A HEARTBROKEN mum has told how her seven-year-old son suffered permanent brain damage after developing Lyme disease from a tick bite, which she fears he could have got while playing in their garden.
Rugby-loving Adam Mitchell, from Inverness, Scotland, was a happy little boy in April 2017.
Amy Mitchell Adam Mitchell, seven, was hospitalised after being bitten by a tick
But more than a year on he is a changed lad who is too scared to even go to sleep, asking his mum: “Will I die tonight?”
He suffers memory loss, forgetting the most simple things, muddles his words and becomes exhausted incredibly easily. He also has trouble processing simple information.
The culprit was a small tick, infected with Lyme disease.
Recalling his heartbreaking decline, mum Amy Mitchell, 35, said: “He was so happy-go-lucky. He loved racing around, swimming and telling jokes.”
Amy Mitchell Blair, mum Amy and Adam in the garden where he was bitten
But, after being bitten by a tick infected with Lyme disease, Adam suffered horrifying side effects and is now “a totally different little boy”.
His mum isn’t hundred per cent certain where the tick bit her son but thinks it most it was in their garden, where he loved larking about.
Now Adam has permanent brain damage.
“He’s suffered from memory loss, processing issues and word muddling,” Amy, who is also mum to two-year-old Blair, explained.
Amy Mitchell Adam was a lovely little boy, but the tick bite affected his personality. In this picture you can see how the Bell’s Palsy has affected his face
Health visitor Amy told how Adam’s character rapidly changed in spring 2017, weeks after he was bitten.
“He suddenly started suffering terrible tantrums,” she said. “He regressed back to a toddler and was having rages on the floor, shouting, screaming and kicking. It was really unlike him.
“We initially wondered if he was being bullied at school. But the school confirmed he wasn’t. They too had noticed he was suffering and were concerned.”
What is Lyme disease?
According to Lyme Disease UK, Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called borrelia.
It’s transmitted via a tick bite and some ticks can be as small as a poppy seed – making them hard to spot.
Some doctors also believe that Lyme disease can be transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes, sand flies, fleas and horseflies.
Infected ticks are found all over the UK in woodland and parkland, but can also be found in urban parks and even gardens.
You can be infected in any month, but it is most likely in spring/summer.
It’s important to never pull a tick off with your finger – use a pair of tweezers or a specialist tool.
And never smother oil or Vaseline over a tick bite.
On top of this he suffered depression-like symptoms. “It sounds odd because he’s just a little boy but that’s how I would describe it,” said Amy. “Like an adult with depression.
“He became irritated with his little brother and that wasn’t like him at all. He was also withdrawn.”
He also suffered physical symptoms, was lethargic, had little energy and no appetite.
Amy explained: “Adam would come home from school, crawl onto the sofa and not move. He would just lie there, totally exhausted.
Amy Mitchell Adam was bitten by a tick in 2017 – it’s permanently affected him. His face has partial paralysis in this photograph
“This was a little boy who’d previously had loads of energy and would eat anything you put in front of him, but he had no appetite and no energy.”
At the beginning of May Amy took him to his GP.
“By this stage his temperature had risen to 40 degrees, he was flushed, sweating, the glands on his neck resembled a bunch of grapes and he had a rash on the left side of his head,” she said.
“I took him to the doctors and he was so weak all he could say was, ‘Mummy please take me home so I can go to bed’.”
Amy Mitchell Adam, wearing an eye patch in hospital, after suffering partial paralysis
At the GP surgery Adam was monitored and given paracetamol. “We were told it was likely to be viral,” his mum explained.
But his condition continued to worsen. Concerned, Amy went back to the GP who suggested monitoring Adam.
Then, at the end of May, she got a call from his school. It was bad news.
Amy explained: “We rushed in and saw the left side of his face was paralysed.
“He was totally miserable. We took him home and he just came in and hid under his blanket.”
Amy and his dad, David, 48, took him straight to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
There he was admitted and diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, which is partial facial paralysis and can be caused by an infection.
Amy Mitchell Adam, playing with Blair, in happier times
He was discharged back home. But Adam’s condition worsened and a week later he was readmitted with full facial paralysis.
His mum said: “He was unable to swallow or blink, had a numb mouth, couldn’t walk because he was exhausted and needed full care.
“His dad David, 48, and I had to carry him everywhere.
“In the week between being discharged and readmitted he had undergone a blood test as Bell’s palsy is recognised as a symptom of Lyme.That came back positive.
“He was given a lumbar puncture due to his neurological symptoms and this also came back as positive for Lyme in his brain and central nervous system.
“It also emerged he had bacterial meningitis caused by Lyme disease, so that was treated too.
“He was an inpatient in hospital for one week and was given three weeks of intravenous antibiotics which we travelled in daily for.”
Amy Mitchell Adam, sick in hospital,, after falling ill
Over the next few months his face recovered and his energy levels started to improve.
Now he is back at school, but he still suffers exhaustion.
“But the illness it has left him brain damaged which is so sad,” said his mum. “He is back and forth to hospital and is still under investigation, so there is hope for the future.
“In my quiet moments I am consumed by feelings of guilt and of how unfair this has been to our wee boy.
“If I can stop anything happening to any other child then I have to.
Former health visitor Amy, speaking out to warn other parents of the dangers of Lyme disease, said: “It’s really tough. He’s not the same little boy he once was.
“I want other parents to know infected ticks are everywhere.
“Not every tick carries Lyme disease – but assume, they do. If you spot a tick on your child don’t take the chance.
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