A TEACHER feared she had dementia and was "losing her mind" after it took 29 years to diagnose her Lyme disease.

Pauline Bowie suffered brain fog, headaches, muscle pain, carpal tunnel, and was even wetting herself after being bitten by a tick in America in 1989.

The 54-year-old, from Clydebank, begged NHS doctors to take her symptoms seriously but they were repeatedly stumped for answers until she took matters into her own hands.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Pauline is raising awareness for Lyme DiseasePauline is raising awareness for Lyme Disease

It wasn’t until mum-of-three sent blood samples to Armin labs in Germany in 2018 that she was finally given the diagnosis for her failing health. Pauline had Lyme disease.

The condition is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted via ticks. If left untreated it can cause serious problems and attack the nervous system.

Pauline had battled her illness for almost 30 years before getting antibiotics which then melted all her agonising symptoms away in just four weeks.

Now, Pauline is determined to spread awareness so others can get help as she is in remission from the disease.

It comes as the NHS reported a rise in tick bites in the UK and urged the public to be on alert as warmer months come in.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Paulin e around the time she was bitten by a tickPaulin e around the time she was bitten by a tick

Pauline said: “I was really struggling with my health for years. I was in agony every day, I just didn’t know why.

“It was so painful, but the really scary thing for me was the brain fog. I was worried I had early onset dementia.

“I would forget things and found it hard to think sometimes. It was horrible. I thought I was losing my mind.

“When the diagnosis came through, the penny dropped so quickly as soon everyone could see the huge improvement and change in me.

“Symptoms I had for 29 years started to suddenly disappear. My carpal tunnel was gone, I stopped wetting myself, the joint pain started to clear, headaches from hell left and the brain fog went away. I couldn’t believe it.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Pauline had no idea she had Lyme diseasePauline had no idea she had Lyme disease

Pauline had been working for Camp America in Michigan in August 1989, aged just 21, when she was bitten by a tick.

Soon after she suffered from the flu before developing a bullseye rash which grew to the size of a “dinner plate”.

It was misdiagnosed as ringworm on her return to Scotland and over the next six months her health continued to deteriorate.

Pauline then attended gastric specialists, urologists, cardiologists, gynaecological specialists, rheumatology, neurology and latterly infectious diseases but could not find answers as to why she was so ill.

It wasn’t until she heard of Lyme disease in April 2018 that she sent her blood to Germany, which returned positive for the condition.

She was prescribed 28 days of doxycycline which cleared her symptoms, but after treatment stopped they returned.

Pauline was then treated by a doctor for two years with a combination of metronidazole and rife, which targets the disease with low electromagnetic energy waves.

This allowed her to slowly rebuild her strength and health, improving her quality of life.

She now self-treats herself with her own rife machine and also maintains a healthy diet to keep symptoms at bay.

If she suffers a severe flare up, her GP can prescribe her a boost of antibiotics but she now spends most days pain-free and is enjoying remission.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Pauline uses a rife machine to treat her symptomsPauline uses a rife machine to treat her symptoms

#Pauline said she’ll “always have” Lyme disease, but is now in remission.

She added: “In Scotland we are now fighting for better testing and treatment of patients with Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.

“I always tell people to keep the tick that has bitten them and send it away to be tested just to be safe.

“The thing is they are so small you won’t feel a thing if you are bitten, so you need to check for them if you have been outside all day.

“It might be so small you mistake it for a blackhead, but it is important you remove it properly as soon as possible.

“I keep a tick remover with me everywhere I go now and my whole family does the same now.”

NHS 24 said: “We've been receiving more calls about tick bites.

“If you spot a tick bite, don't worry, the majority of tick bites cause no issues. However, if you do get bitten, you should: remove the tick as soon as possible, wash your skin with soap, apply antiseptic cream to the bite, and take pictures of any rashes.

“To force the tick out you should not use a cigarette, match, lighter, squeeze the tick, use alcohol or petroleum jelly.

“The safest way to remove a tick is to use a tick removal tool, such as a tick twister or tick card. If these aren't available, you can use a pair of fine-toothed tweezers.

“There is no need to consult your GP if you have been bitten and have no symptoms.

“However, do keep an eye on the bite area, and if you develop any rash, not just one resembling a bullseye, or develop any flu-like symptoms in the weeks following a bite, make an appointment with your GP right away.

“Make sure to tell your GP that you've been bitten, or if you've been in an area where ticks are present - wooded, grassy areas with dense overgrowth.

“This is where taking pictures can help, they can be assessed if any rash disappears or spreads.

“Remember, not everyone who contracts Lyme disease develops a rash, or notices a bite, so it's very important to be aware of, and seek advice for any flu-like symptoms quickly.”