BOSTON (CBS) — Looking back at baby pictures reminds Brandi Dean of a terrifying scare during her second pregnancy. It turns out the Wellesley mom had Lyme disease.
“All of a sudden, the right side of my body was completely numb. My heart was racing. I was disoriented and I said, ‘I think you need to take me to the hospital,’” she remembered.
After the standard antibiotic treatment, Dean still didn’t feel right. “I’d gone to 12 different specialists and they all had diagnosed me with anxiety.”
She had what the Centers for Disease Control calls Post-Treatment Lyme Syndrome. She eventually found a doctor who understood her condition and recovered.
Doctors don’t always know what causes the lingering symptoms, making the diagnosis controversial and it is difficult for many patients to find help.
“There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who are severely debilitated from this disease and don’t have the access to the care that they need,” Dean said.
She and her family helped create a special program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital that focuses on treating the lingering effects of tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme, including pain, fatigue, and brain fog.
“We have the ability to get them into physical therapy,” explained Dean Center co-founder, Dr. David Crandell. “If people are having problems with fatigue, we’ll work on ways to improve their efficiencies and if they’re having problems with their cognition, we’ll work with our speech and language pathologist to come up with unique management strategies.”
The Dean Center is the only one of its kind in the country and because of that, they have a long waiting list.
“I think if we’re in a position to show how these services help, hopefully, people will adopt those approaches elsewhere,” Crandell said.
In the meantime, the Dean Center is getting ready to open a pediatric Lyme disease center and the hospital hopes to expand services to treat more adults as well.
Dean continues to help raise money for the Center so more people can have access to care that she had. “I don’t know where I could be if I hadn’t found those physicians who believed that I was really sick,” she said.