Three eastern Iowans share their experience with Lyme Disease - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Three eastern Iowans share their experience with Lyme Disease

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by Danielle Wagner

WAVERLY (KWWL) Lyme Disease is transmitted from the bite of an infected tick, and some people think it's on the rise in Iowa.

Faith Bergmann, Kris Brunkhorst and Matthew Tolan say Lyme Disease disrupted their lives.

"It just disrupts your life and throws you off track and hits you sideways," said 19-year-old Matthew Tolan.

"Ruined my life completely. I've missed so much school that I don't go to school anymore. I do all my classes online," said 15-year-old Faith Bergmann.

Bergmann and Tolan said they're still struggling with treating Lyme Disease. Tolan even had to take a medical leave from the University of Iowa.

But Kris Brunkhorst is considered cured after a year and a half of antibiotics.

"My life is back and life after Lyme is wonderful. It was really hard. I hate to go back and even think where I would be. Would I be dead? Possibly. Would I be divorced? Possibly. Would I have lost my children? Possibly. It's a very debilitating disease," said Brunkhorst.

Brunkhorst said there are many misconceptions about Lyme Disease.

She uses the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society or ILADS for information.

"I never saw the tick, and that's very typical because the tick can be the size of a poppy seed, and it can bit you, inject you with the bacteria and go on. It does not have to embed to infect you with the Lyme," said Brunkhorst.

She said a negative test for the disease is not uncommon initially. It took several tests for Matthew Tolan to be diagnosed.

"The problem is you can't explain it in a couple words. There's so many things that affect you," he said.

He says he experienced heart attack like symptoms, extreme fatigue and weight gain. But Brunkhorst said there are nearly 80 symptoms that *could be associated with Lyme Disease.

Kris Brunkhorst started a Lyme Education Support Group raise awareness and give people like Tolan and Bergmann a place to fit in.

"You can say I don't feel good, but they don't understand. So going to the support group you can talk to kids, adults anyone who has it and you share your story. It's like yeah, they understand because they went through it and are going through it themselves," said Faith Bergmann.

Bergmann and Tolan won't get better overnight, but both said they're determined to get their lives back.

The Bremer County Area Lyme and Hormone Education Support Group meets once a month.

For more information, you can contact Kris Brunkhorst at 319-352-0065 or bkbrunk@netins.net.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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