Long years after she first became sick, and despite medical professionals’ reluctance to diagnose her officially with Lyme Disease, Debby de Backer of Port Alberni has regained some quality of life. SUBMITTED PHOTO

LIFE IN THE VALLEY: The long road back from Lyme

Debby de Backer of Port Alberni fights for quality of life with Lyme Disease

  • Nov. 14, 2017 5:00 p.m.

A hiking trip in Alberta in 2009 changed Debby De Backer’s life. The Port Alberni francophone teacher contracted Lyme Disease and has been experiencing debilitating symptoms ever since.

It has been a struggle to find answers, but after consulting with both medical and naturopathic professionals, De Backer is hoping improvements she has experienced since the spring of 2016 are signs of a better future.

De Backer first realized something was wrong when she felt like she had the flu after hiking through the Rocky Mountains.

The symptoms did not go away and were made worse with joint pain and fatigue. By 2014, she was forced to quit her job as a teacher in Ontario.

De Backer and her family relocated to Vancouver Island and landed in Port Alberni, where her husband is principal at École des Grands cèdres francophone school. She turned to a naturopathic doctor in Courtenay to help find answers to her illness.

She was put on short-term antibiotics for six weeks and decided to try a more natural approach to manage the pain. It was expensive, so she sought alternate treatments in the United States in January 2015. However, by the fall of last year, she was hospitalized for paralysis and tested for Multiple Sclerosis.

“They didn’t find anything (to diagnose MS),” she said.

“They, however,found patches in my brain showing that I was starting (to develop) an ischemic brain disease and it could be the very start of Alzheimer’s disease. I was very weak, and my ND, Dr. Kumar Biswas, started me on a different treatment to help me rebuild my immune system and battle Lyme. This treatment is the ozone hemotherapy.”

This new treatment was an IV injection of a mixture of her own blood with ozone, which De Backer is on every 15 days. She also took an iron intravenous bi-monthly, Vitamin B12 monthly, Vitamin C and uses Rife therapy to help manage her chronic pain, fibromyalgia, brain fog, memory loss and mobility problems. With the help of fundraisers and donors, she was able to purchase an oxygen concentrator and an oxygen generator to be able to do ozone therapy at home.

“We put it in my nose or ears for about 20 minutes per day,” she said. “Of course, the IV’s are more efficient because it’s immediately in your blood stream. But the ozone at home helps me to increase the time between the IV’s and also saves me money as I have to pay for everything myself.”

She also has fructose injections along her spine for pain relief. “It will be ongoing but I can walk now, think clearly and have an acceptable life,” she said.

There is currently no cure for Lyme Disease, and medical professionals are reluctant to identify what she suffers from as Lyme, so De Backer expects this routine to be lifelong. She said, though, it has helped her get her life back and last year she returned to work part-time.

“I also volunteer with my therapy dog, a Bernese mountain dog, who is certified by St John’s Ambulance and I am planning to start a program in two elementary schools in Port Alberni, the francophone school Ecole des Grands cèdres and Alberni Elementary,” she said.

In December, De Backer was accepted for Canada Pension Plan Disability and is happy that the disease is starting to be recognized.

“But, our battle to have this disease officially recognized is still on,” she said. “Too many of us are quitting treatments because of lack of money and also lack of hope.”

Kristi Dobson, who wrote stories for the Alberni Valley News featuring the lives of people in Port Alberni, died on July 8, 2017, before some of her articles were published. We are running these stories with her family’s blessing.

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