NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – An Ashtabula County girl has been living with Lyme disease for 10 years. Now, she’s making it her mission to spread awareness about the illness.
It all started when Megan Tilton was 12 years old. She went on a weekend trip with her family.
“I came down with what we thought was the flu. I had a lot of like fatigue, fever, chills, nausea. I felt really weak. My heart started to race really fast,” she said.
The flu-like symptoms went away, but the heart issues were persistent.
For the next three years, Tilton went from doctor to doctor desperate for a diagnosis, but not getting any answers.
“It was a hard few years. Knowing that something is wrong with you and feeling the symptoms, feeling the pain, and yet people telling you that there’s nothing there,” she said.
In high school, Tilton decided to do an English research paper on Lyme disease. She started to realize her symptoms matched and in 2012, she was finally diagnosed with it.
She now wants people to know how an earlier diagnosis of Lyme disease could have changed everything for her.
“When it has that long to… the infection can grow and spread in your body and there’s nothing to combat it. That just gives it free rein in your body and I think that’s what caused a lot of my issues. I have a lot of other conditions now as a result of it, a lot of autoimmune issues,” she said.
Tilton hasn’t been able to walk for two years.
Dr. Elena Frid is a Lyme disease specialist in New York City. She says a tick can be attached to you for only a couple minutes and still transfer a bacterial infection.
“When you do see a tick, you want to remove it as fast as possible, so don’t leave it in. The best way is to take tweezers, sharply pointed tweezers, get as close as you can to the head, pull up gently without squeezing the head and wait for the tick to let go,” Frid said.
According to Frid, the best time to get tested is six to eight weeks after exposure. You can also send the tick off to a lab to get checked.
Tilton’s sister, Sara, was also diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014. Through Megan’s experience, the family was able to recognize the symptoms quickly and keep her treatment less complex.
Megan’s mother, Connie Moshell, formed the Northeast Ohio Lyme Foundation in 2017. The foundation is holding its third symposium this Saturday at Pymatuning Valley High School in Andover to educate people on the disease.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a catered lunch by Panera.