By Breanne Massey
Xander Berry and her mother, Shauna Kains, were blissfully unaware that a tick bite could dramatically change the course of their lives.
At the mere age of three, Berry, who is now 12 years old, woke up unable to move and began screaming. Shauna rushed upstairs to see what was wrong and was shocked by the visual.
She was sick and paralyzed, she said in disbelief. Knocking on the wooden picnic table at which she sat for the interview, she added: Just like this table her whole body seized up.
Xander was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease after nine years of learning how to live with body seizures and muscle weakness.
Lyme disease is a chronic and often disabling illness that can be spread by the bite of blacklegged ticks.
If the disease is caught early, its possible to be treated with antibiotics in four to six weeks, but if its left untreated for extended periods of time, the condition becomes more complicated.
On May 10th, Shauna and Xander will be spending Mothers Day together with the rest of their family on the Akisqnuk First Nation reserve.
Lets just say that through all of the pain and suffering, my Mom and I got even closer, Xander added.
Were so close that were at the point where we dont need to talk but still know what the other person wants, agreed Shauna with chuckle. Thats how we operate. Its weird how close we all became during the hard times.
She took a deep breath then explained Xander was initially diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
You spend more time in the waiting room than you do with the doctor, Shauna said in frustration, noting the medication had the ability to shut down Xanders immune system.
A Cowichan Lake pharmacist filled the prescription but urged Shauna not to give it to her daughter, which prompted Shauna to get a second opinion.
When I refused to give her the methotrexate, I was charged with refusing medical attention, she said.
But Xander herself protested by swatting the medicine away and is now relieved to see Lyme disease prescriptions taking their place.
My body isnt hurting the same way it would a long time ago, she said.
Xander takes four pills and five tincture drops to help treat Lyme disease every day.
In addition, she gets massages and sees a chiropractor regularly.
This is just the beginning of Xanders rehabilitation, said Shauna, and this disease has robbed her of school, her social life and its robbed everybody of their common sense.
The duo agreed it hasnt been an easy road.
When they were trying to diagnose Xander, they came back and told me, Thats the luck of the draw, added Shauna. And Im like, Hey, I didnt put my name in for that? What 50/50 ticket did I get?
Were talking about a child and there needs to be more compassion involved you wouldnt say its the luck of the draw if it was an animal. Disassociating themselves because (doctors) are overworked didnt give us a clear answer.
Shauna and Xander are now travelling to see Lyme disease specialist Dr. Charles Ray Jones in the state of Connecticut.
How tough does a Mom have to be to watch their children suffer like this, Shaunna said with a tear in her eye. Well, there are days I cry, but that doesnt solve the problem. It just gives me enough ammo to (load up) my gun and keep going We work together and the whole family has been pulled into this black hole, like a vortex, when it happened.