The man who fell ill after a mission trip to India nearly a decade ago is still in the grips of a massive health battle, and could only move around for 15 minutes before becoming exhausted.
Matthew Mason, 37, from Athelston, in east Adelaide, contracted Lyme disease when he was bitten by a tick carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi in December 2013 in a remote part of India.
The debilitating illness has left him unable to participate in the activities he used to enjoy such as attending church, working and creating videos for his YouTube channel.
Even just walking became a difficult task.
Matthew Mason (pictured), 37, from Athelston, east Adelaide, contracted Lyme disease when he was bitten by a tick in December 2013 in a remote part of India
Mr. Mason is only able to spend so little time each day looking at electronic screens, reading or listening to audio, and can only manage a few 15-minute blocks of activity at a time.
He also has to live with his parents because he cannot work or live independently.
“If I start to overdo it with activities, my stomach feels tight, I can start sweating and feel very weak,” he told the Adelaide Advertiser.
If he pushed himself, Mason said, it could set him back up for days at a time.
“It’s just a really frustrating process of just trying to do all the right things, eat all the right things, and put my mind in the right place,” he said.
Mr. Mason did not develop symptoms of the disease until 2015 – more than a year after he was bitten.
He said he broke down in 2015 but wasn’t officially diagnosed with Lyme disease until the beginning of 2019.
Between 2015 and until his diagnosis, Mason said he visited several doctors in Adelaide but they were unable to find the root cause of his symptoms.
He said he was even prescribed antidepressants at one point, even though he knew he didn’t suffer from anxiety or depression.
Matthew Mason contracted Lyme disease when he was bitten by a tick carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (the disease carrying tick is pictured)
“For doctors it was a mystery disease, so it was very frustrating just going from one doctor to another and not really getting any answers,” he said.
When the doctors in Sydney finally diagnosed Mr. Mason, the disease had infected his cells, rendering any antibiotic useless.
Lyme disease can be cured if it is caught and diagnosed within the first six months of infection.
After suffering another setback in his health, a close friend of Mason’s set up a GoFundMe to help pay for expensive treatments.
Friend Caleb Cornelope said that Mason was “extremely isolated with very limited social interaction”.
“[He has] He suffered the loss of many things including his job and finances, and his fiancé left him at a low point,” Mr. Corneloup wrote on the GoFundMe page.
Mr. Mason can only spend so little time each day looking at electronic screens, reading or listening to audio, and can only manage a few 15-minute blocks of activity at a time.
In a recent Jan. 16 fundraising update, Cornelope said his friend had an appointment at a specialist clinic where he would begin treatment “immediately.”
“Matt is so grateful to all of you,” he wrote.
Lyme disease is transmitted after certain types of ticks bite if they become infected with certain Borrelia bacteria, and they are commonly found in parts of Asia, Europe and North America.
Related tick bites occur in Australia but have not been shown to be infected with the Lyme disease Borrelia bacteria.
Most cases of Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics for a few weeks, such as doxycycline, which is widely available in Australia.
Left untreated, Lyme disease can spread through the bloodstream and can cause brain and heart infections, joint pain, and long-term neurological symptoms.
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