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'I didn't think it'd make me this sick:' Mid-Michigan woman battling Lyme disease

Posted at 7:40 AM, Jul 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 11:25:49-04

Lyme disease numbers are on the rise in the State of Michigan.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), 221 cases were confirmed in 2016. That number is up significantly from 2015 where 125 confirmed cases were reported in Michigan.

38-year-old Brandi Johnson of Mason is a proud mother of two children who loves fitness and staying in shape.

Never did she expect at 38-years-old she’d have a disease that often leaves her bed-ridden for days.

“Who gets it,” said Johnson. “It wasn't going to be me, I’m healthy and I’m active.”

Enjoying a pure Michigan summer day is something Johnson has come to appreciate a bit more these days.

“I’m actually by trade a health and wellness coach,” said Johnson. “I’m one of those crazy people that could do burpees and enjoyed it.”

So when she started experiencing joint and nerve pain, numbness and forgetfulness among other things it was time to get in touch with a doctor.

“It traveled to my knees,” said Johnson. “I started having issues with numbness in my back, down my arm, my ankles and then I knew we weren’t dealing with just an injury it was something more.”

That something more Johnson would find out would be Lyme disease caused by a tick bite.

“I never had a bite, I never saw a tick, I never saw a bulls eye rash,” said Johnson. “I never had any of the symptoms normal people would.”

As if the sometimes crippling symptoms weren’t already bad enough, having to explain the disease to her two children has been a difficult thing to do.

“It’s an unseen illness that nobody knows what it is or take serious so my daughters words were is she going to die?” said Johnson. “Kids shouldn't have to think about that.”

Because Lyme disease is so hard to test for Johnson says it often goes undiagnosed.

By raising awareness Johnson hopes will let others know they're not alone.

“We need to know more people and have more people share their stories,” said Johnson. “We need to find a way to fight this together because it's the only way it’s going to go away.”

To protect yourself from coming into contact with ticks, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends to avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and walk in the center of trails.

Take a bath or shower as soon as possible (within two hours) to wash off and easily find ticks that could be crawling on you.

Click here for more tips to prevent tick bites and infections.