Life looking up at last for student Sinéad after five year Lyme disease battle

Sinéad Kearney says she wants to catch up with schoolwork and sport. Picture: Dan Linehan

After five years of suffering, teenager is on the mend thanks to innovative therapies, writes Louise Roseingrave

After five years of suffering, Sinéad Kearney is finally on the road to recovery.

Sinéad, 16, a transition-year student from Rathcormac, Co Cork, fell ill during the summer of 2011.

A keen sports player with a bright future, her symptoms left doctors mystified as she developed shortness of breath, muscular weakness, and chest pains. Her mother, Claire Kearney, says it was a full 12 months later before Lyme disease was identified as the cause of Sinéad’s symptoms.

“That summer she developed this feeling that her legs just wouldn’t go when she wanted to run,” says Claire. “She had experienced a sudden onset of high temperature, headache and stiff neck which had given rise to the initial fear of meningitis.

“She was admitted to hospital and it was declared to probably be a viral infection which could take a long time to recover from.”

Neither Sinéad herself nor any of her family were aware of any tick or insect bite, and they couldn’t remember ever seeing the bullseye-shaped rash which is associated with around 50% of those diagnosed with Lyme’s disease.

“Sinéad became increasingly lacking in energy so that, a year later, even walking a short distance after school was too much, and she needed to go straight to bed as soon as she came home,” Claire says.

“Routine blood tests did not show any abnormalities but bio resonance testing indicated an infection with Borrelia, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease along with a number of other bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections, some of which can be delivered by the same insect bite.”

The Borrelia infection was later confirmed through blood tests carried out in the UK. But Sinéad’s situation worsened.

“She went on to develop severe gastric problems and later severe recurring pains in many different parts of her body which kept moving between joints, muscles, and bones,” says Claire.

Sinéad Kearney at home in Rathcormac, Co Cork. with her parents Claire and Maurice. Picture: Dan Linehan
Sinéad Kearney at home in Rathcormac, Co Cork. with her parents Claire and Maurice. Picture: Dan Linehan

“Several organs were affected. Her limbs were often unbearably heavy, her knees swollen and normal everyday things like looking after herself, standing or walking, especially on stairs became very difficult.”

It became impossible for Sinéad to attend school regularly. She underwent two episodes of neurosurgery for a condition sometimes associated with Lyme disease. But the devastating symptoms persisted.

When every available treatment the family could access in Ireland at the time failed to bring lasting relief, the community in Rathcormac and Bartlemy rallied around to raise funds for Sinéad to get treatment abroad. It was a turning point from which she never looked back.

“Sinead felt a lot better when she returned from the US,” says Claire. “We chose the Integrative Medical Center in upstate New York for the combination of conventional and complementary therapies offered there.

“Killing of bacteria and other pathogens results in release of toxins in the body which can overwhelm the liver, kidney, and lymphatic system, causing what’s known as a herx reaction so that the patient feels even worse than they did before treatment.

“Over the eight weeks there a multidisciplinary team, some of whom had experienced Lyme disease themselves or in their families, worked together to address all the complexities of the illness and administered a variety of different antibiotics intravenously combined with oral antibiotics and other medication to penetrate cell walls and bio-film which protects different forms of the bacteria from attack by a short and simple course of antibiotics.”

Sinéad worked out on a cross trainer with the aid of oxygen before each infusion to boost the circulation and penetration of medication and IV nutrients to promote healing.

“Since that treatment, Sinéad has been able to walk unaided,” says Claire. “She had a big reduction in the pain and weakness she had endured for the previous four years, and was able to return to school part time and sit her junior cert in six subjects. She was also able to carry out everyday tasks that had previously been a major struggle. She was well enough to work on building up her strength and fitness again with the help of oxygen when needed.

“Nutritional, physical, and cranio-sacral therapy, herbal treatment, acupuncture and bio resonance have all been essential elements of her ongoing treatment.”

One final discovery has helped Sinéad renew her love of outdoor activity and sport. Claire believes the addition of biomagnetic treatment to Sinead’s health care plan is the ‘most valuable advice’ she picked up from another Lyme patient, as it gradually increased her daughter’s strength, energy, and vigour since beginning it just three months ago.

The treatment involves using pairs of magnets to create an environment that is hostile to disease-causing pathogens in the body.

“Biomagnetism is the most exciting and promising testing and treatment approach we have found for Sinéad,” says Claire. “It’s a relatively new therapeutic system that was discovered by the Mexican surgeon, Dr Isaac Goiz Duran in 1988 and has only become known in the English speaking world in recent years.

“By applying two magnets with opposite polarity at specific points of the body, the charges are pushed towards each other, neutralising the PH, thus destroying pathogens that cannot survive in a neutral PH environment. It also helps the body to repair damage caused by the infections and to recover from symptoms.”

It has made a big impact on Sinéad’s quality of life. She has returned to horse riding and hurling with her family and now recovers more quickly after activities than she had been.

“She must still take care not to overdo it but she’s delighted with her progress,” Claire says.

It’s been a long and difficult road for the family, particularly Sinéad herself. But the determined teen is very much focused on making up for what she’s missed out on.

“I want to be able to go to school full time, as odd as that may sound,” Sinéad says. “I’m hoping I can enjoy fully taking part in transition year activities this year. I need to catch up on subjects like maths that I just couldn’t do, even when I was recovering last year. But, more importantly, I intend to make up for lost time playing sport.”

The Kearney family say they can never adequately thank those who supported them in their struggle to restore Sinéad to full health.

“We will be eternally grateful for the kindness shown by the people of Rathcormac, Bartlemy and beyond,” says Claire.

More on this topic

Alzheimer’s disease ‘can develop without symptoms in those with Down’s syndrome’Alzheimer’s disease ‘can develop without symptoms in those with Down’s syndrome’

Irish Examiner View: Stephen Donnelly must act to make health system fit for purposeIrish Examiner View: Stephen Donnelly must act to make health system fit for purpose

Antenatal course help women around the globe navigate a Covid-19 pregnancyAntenatal course help women around the globe navigate a Covid-19 pregnancy

Listen up: Scientists explore link between hearing loss and dementiaListen up: Scientists explore link between hearing loss and dementia


Lifestyle

For 2020, statement-making in interiors has expanded to just about anything we like as long as it draws the eye towards it in the way a fireplace or television dominating a room would typically have done in the past, writes Carol O'CallaghanHow just one item can create a focal point in a room and even spark a conversation

Dara McAnulty talks about his friendship with Chris Packham, his struggles with autism and the buzz around his debut book.Dara McAnulty: Meet the bright new teenage voice for conservation

'You see, in a classroom, I know the rules. I’m not perfect but I’m in the right ballpark at least. I can see and hear it in my students’ reactions, in their contributions from the stands.'Secret Diary of an Irish Teacher: Living the dream in a lockdown nightmare

'The old doll said we can’t go to Tenerife this year because her Mam would be ashamed if she went against the government's advice, whoever's in the government these days.'Ask Audrey: 'C’mere, what’s the story with getting ripped off by Kerry people?'

More From The Irish Examiner