Man suffering from Lyme disease told to see a psychologist | The Times | 10 July 2015

From The Times, 10 July 2015 (Story by Georgie Keate).

A management consultant who says he is dying of a disease caused by a tick bite claims the NHS abandoned his treatment and told him to see a psychologist.

Graham Harris Graham claims it took more than a year for his illness to be identified but he is still not getting the help he needs.

He is planning to start a £32,500 course of treatment in America in an attempt to half the progression of Lyme disease.

Once an active photographer who enjoyed mountaining and cycling, Mr Graham, 50, fears that he has only a couple of years to live unless the disease can be stopped. Mr Graham, from Stanley, Perthshire, believes a deer tick that bit him on the toe in the US in 2013 gave him the disease.

He began suffering from severe joint pain, sensitivity to light, heat and sound, and exhaustion. He now needs a wheelchair to get about. At first doctors thought he had chronic fatigue syndrome but after pushing for a second opinion after seeing a TV documentary on Lyme disease, Mr Graham said he was finally diagnosed with the deadly infection.

He started a course of antibiotics at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, but was told it would stop because it would no longer be effective. Instead, he should speak to a psychologist.

“It struck me as a staggeringly idiotic decision to take,” said Mr Graham. “To get this treatment cancelled when it was really starting to make a difference was disgraceful. I cannot understand it.

“I could feel I was getting my life back. By the end of it, I was even driving to get my treatment.”

Lora, his wife, said he had been left profoundly disabled. “As a consequence of NHS Scotland taking over a year to correctly diagnose his symptoms, Graham remains disabled, unable to walk more than a few yards and unable to care for himself,” she said.

Mr Graham, who is fundraising for her husband to be treated in the US, added: “I just want him to have some quality of life back.

“Money is going to be a struggle. We have had to go to friends and family for help and set up a fundraising page online. Most people do not see another person suffering, but to look across the table and see my husband falling apart physically and mentally has been awful.”

Mrs Graham said that she was beginning a campaign to improve awareness of Lyme disease among health professionals in Scotland and to increase the number of drugs available on the NHS.

“People have committed suicide over the effects. It’s all those people sitting behind closed sustains with the disease who don’t have someone like me championing their cause that I am really worried about.”

NHS Tayside said that staff followed standard procedures for the treatment of Lyme disease and added that further courses of antibiotics were unlikely to help symptoms.

An NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “NHS Tayside follows the position statement by the British Infection Association for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.”

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