Dillon girl wages tough battle with Lyme disease
September 24, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – When Summit High School sophomore Kelly Secor experienced nagging stomach pain as an eighth-grader, doctors struggled to pinpoint her ailment. Yet Lyme disease, a complex and often misdiagnosed illness, was the culprit, her mother Nancy Secor said.
“We’ve learned through Kelly having the disease that more awareness needs to be brought forward,” Nancy said, adding that they struggled for years to get an accurate diagnosis for her daughter. “Diagnosis is very difficult, depending on the stage of Lyme disease, and treatment is controversial.”
Nancy and Kelly Secor moved to Kansas City indefinitely for Lyme disease treatment in August, and the Dillon residents don’t know when they’ll return to Summit County.
Kelly’s father, Steve Secor, works in Breckenridge, and he visits his wife and daughter monthly.
When 15-year-old Kelly was in eighth grade, her health began declining for unknown reasons, including stomach problems, her mother said. They went to the Children’s Hospital in Denver and saw a gastroenterologist all winter.
“They ran every test they had to offer her and found nothing,” Nancy said, adding that Kelly went to eight different specialists and “no one could really find anything particularity wrong.”
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“Kelly became extremely sick,” Nancy said of her normally very athletic daughter. She finished a cross country season at the high school and she suffered from terrible joint pain, and pain in her ribs and chest. She was initially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia -an illness association with long-term body pain and tender joints, and in October 2008 she got even sicker – suffering from joint pain, stomach issues, neurological problems, brain fog, etc.
By February 2009, the SHS ninth-grader was re-diagnosed, this time with Lyme disease by a “Lyme-literate” doctor in Denver. So, Nancy’s quest began for a doctor to treat her daughter.
Through a friend of a friend, Nancy heard of a Lyme disease expert in Kansas City, so they flew to see him in April 2009 for a week-long appointment that included testing, meetings and brain scans.
When Kelly returned home from Kansas City, she attempted to treat her illness long-distance so she could stay in school. But, it became increasingly difficult as she sickened.
“When you start treatment and the antibiotics begin to kill off the bug, your body becomes very toxic,” Nancy said. “You becomes incredibly sick.”
Kelly also became dehydrated – last summer Bristlecone Health Services home care was coming to the Secor home with IV fluids three times a week.
“It got to the point where her veins were collapsing,” Nancy said, so Kelly’s doctor asked her to come and stay for treatment in Kansas City.
Kelly is receiving antibiotics through an IV twice a day, seven days a week to kill the Lyme disease bacteria that’s built up in her body – “Its very closely monitored,” Nancy said. “As far as length of treatment, it’s individual. … We’re going to be here a lot longer than three months.”
Though Kelly’s treatment is progressing, her mother said “she’s in a lot of pain, she hurts and she feels horrible. … The doctor told her she will feel worse before she feels better.”
According to Nancy, her daughter’s ailment was hard to diagnose because of the level of technology needed to detect the disease .
“It’s diagnosed by blood work and a clinical diagnosis. The problem is it mimics about 100 other illnesses,” she said. “Testing and research is getting better, but so many people are misdiagnosed. If you get a tick bite and get a bulls-eye rash, you’re infected. But only 30 percent of the people actually get that rash, and if its in your hair or something you don’t even see it. If you get treated by antibiotics within 30 days, it’s fairly treatable. The problem is most people go undiagnosed, and over the years it hits every system in the body.”
Though Kelly’s health has suffered, her mother said she’s kept her spirits up. She was able to complete her ninth-grade year at Summit High School, and she continues to study through an online program to stay on track for graduation.
“It’s hard to be away from my friends,” Kelly said, also noting that she recently received a banner from the high school with signatures from her classmates. The banner is currently hanging on her wall in Kansas City.
“I want to get back to cross country, running, swimming and skiing,” Kelly added. “I also wants to get back to the lacrosse team and bike.”
And, though she’s not sure about her exact career path, she said she hopes to enter the medical field after school because of her experience with Lyme disease. She also said she wants to go to college in Colorado to stay close to her family – her older brother and sister live in Denver.
“Thanks for the support from Summit County, and I’m hoping for more awareness and more research,” Kelly said.
A fundraiser to help the Secors with living and medical expenses is in the planning stage. More information about how to give donations will be given at a later date.
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at email@example.com.