Leeming mother’s desperate plea


Tammy Westhousen and her two sons are trying to raise money for treatment of Lyme Disease in Germany.
Picture: Robin Kornet
       www.communitypix.com.au   d450706
Tammy Westhousen and her two sons are trying to raise money for treatment of Lyme Disease in Germany. Picture: Robin Kornet        www.communitypix.com.au d450706

Worse, she believes the same affliction has struck two of her sons.

She believes she was infected with Lyme Disease when she was bitten by a tick while working as a local government ranger in the Mandurah area in 2006.

Lyme Disease is known as the great imitator for its ability to mimic a wide variety of diseases, but for Ms Westhousen the symptoms are all too real.

Constant fever, aching and fatigue set in shortly after the bite and slowly worsened over the next four years.

In 2010 she began experiencing seizures and an erratic heartbeat, quickly followed by memory loss, confusion and loss of feeling in one side of her body.

“Trying to get doctors to help me has been an absolute nightmare,” she said.

“I’ve seen approximately 40 doctors and specialists since 2008 and whenever I’m taken to the hospital it is always to the psych ward.

“I’ve been laughed at, yelled at, talked down to like a kindy student and called a hypochondriac.”

Ms Westhousen was not diagnosed until 2013, when she contacted an American doctor who arranged for her blood to be tested at a laboratory in the US.

The $1400 test came back positive for borrelia, babesia and bartonella – infections commonly associated with Lyme Disease in America, where it is far more readily diagnosed.

The US physician put her in contact with one of a handful of Perth doctors willing to diagnose and treat the disease despite the Federal Government’s insistence it is not endemic to Australia.

“It did ease off for about 12 months because of the medications I have been taking but I can no longer afford all of them so I’m not going to progress much further health-wise,” Ms Westhousen said.

Ms Westhousen has not been able to work since 2011 but she has not been able to claim permanent disability insurance or access superannuation despite her doctor deeming her severely and permanently disabled.

Compounding her frustration is the fact that two of her three sons – Rikki (4) and Codey (15) – have also been diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

“Rikki was born with Lyme Disease. I believe he was infected during pregnancy,” Ms Westhousen said.

“His symptoms are seizures, a weak immune system, stomach and gut problems, food allergies and constant ear and mouth infections.

“Codey was bitten by a tick in Mandurah about 18 months ago while riding his motorbike and he has transformed from an always-on-the-go young man to pale, weak and very fatigued.

“He became ill with what we thought was a stomach bug but then it stayed and continued to worsen, with doctors continually advising he was just depressed.”

Ms Westhousen believes her only hope is to travel to St Georg Klinik in Germany, which specialises in radical treatment of Lyme Disease and cancer.

“They do extensive testing first to see how your heart and other organs are functioning and check for masses,” Ms Westhousen said.

“Then you undergo hyperthermia treatment where they put you to sleep and heat the body for hours to kill off the infection and stimulate the immune system.”

Ms Westhousen said the procedure was promising but expensive – in excess of $30,000 for her and her two sons.

“I don’t want to die but the reality is my body is giving up on me and there is no adequate treatment in Australia,” she said.

“I don’t want to see my kids suffer and end up like me – they have the possibility of a full recovery and I want that for them.”

Ms Westhousen has created a crowd funding page in an attempt to raise the money her family needs to get to Germany.

Anyone interested in donating can visit gofundme.com/tammywilson .