ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Lyme disease cases are on the rise. The 2015 numbers for Roanoke County show an increase in cases from the year before.
With Lyme disease cases growing, one local 17-year-old is putting a face to the debilitating disease.
Hannah Tyler, a Hidden Valley High School senior, wakes up and starts her daily doses of IV antibiotics and holistic medicines. Hannah has chronic Lyme disease. She was diagnosed in May but doctors say she had been living with the disease for years.
"It was a relief to actually have a name to my problem, because people would be like, it's in your head, you're depressed, you have anxiety," said Hannah.
"When her hair was falling out, you know, that's something deeper," said Mike Tyler, Hannah's father.
Hannah's Lyme disease was so well-established in her body that doctors said an IV port was the best way to save her.
"Now I'm able to walk around the house, before I was in the wheelchair or in the walker. I wasn't able to do anything," said Hannah.
But the antibiotics are expensive. One week's treatment can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,000. The Tyler family's insurance has covered Hannah's first month of treatment, but because an IV port is viewed as experimental, the insurance coverage is temporary.
"We saw quite a change in her over that first two weeks of antibiotics to detox her body. When they said we're going to stop it, that was quite a heartbreaker," said Mike.
This past spring, when Hannah's Lyme got worse, she had to be homeschooled. She was able to attend band camp this summer with the help of her IV, but her senior year is still uncertain. She's unsure if she can physically make it back and forth from high school.
"I have neurolyme, so it's in my brain, my heart and all my organs, so I have memory loss, cognitive problems. It's a lot," said Hannah.
Hannah still has high hopes for her future.
"I want to help as many people as I can through my story," said Hannah.
Just this summer, Hannah was bitten by a lone star tick that carried Lyme and has now given her an allergy to red meat.
Friends of Hannah's family have created a GoFundMe account to help with the cost of her IV antibiotics. Click here to donate.