Let’s go girls. Few songs have beginning lines that are as beloved and recognizable as the ones uttered by one of the best-selling female artists of all time, Shania Twain. With five Grammys to her name, Shania Twain is an absolute legend in the music industry and she’s not slowing down anytime soon. However, this wasn’t always the case.
Speaking in her new Netflix documentary, Shania Twain: Not Just A Girl, the musician revealed that a bite from a tick, which had been infected with Lyme disease, almost completely derailed the country star’s career and her health.
Shania Twain’s Journey With Lyme Disease
“It was nearing the end of the tour. … I was horseback riding, and I was bit by a tick. The tick was infected with Lyme disease…My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. I was losing my balance, I was afraid I was gonna fall off the stage… I was having these very, very, very millisecond blackouts, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds.” – Shania Twain
According to Twain, the infection occurred in 2003, and in addition to the aforementioned symptoms, the 56-year-old actress also developed dysphonia, which is a medical term to describe voice disorders.
“My voice was never the same again. I thought I’d lost my voice forever. I thought that was it, [and] I would never, ever sing again.”
Twain told People Magazine that she began to avoid speaking on the phone and going to places that have ambient noise where you have to speak over the volume of others, “Our voice is such a huge part of our self-expression. For a vocalist, a singer … it’s devastating in so many ways.”
Sadly, it took almost seven years for doctors to find the link between Twain’s Lyme disease diagnosis and the problems she was having with her voice but eventually, a neurologist finally connected that it was the nerve to each vocal cord.
What exactly is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that approximately affects 476 000 Americans every year, making it the most common tick-borne disease in the United States.
Contracted through the bite of an infected black-legged tick, Lyme disease is more likely to be contracted during late spring, summer, and fall.
Cases commonly occur in the Northeast and upper Midwest, particularly in states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
What are the symptoms of lyme disease?
The most common symptoms of Lyme disease that occur within a few days following a tick bite include:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Bullseye rash
It is heavily advised that you seek out medical attention and be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the infection can progress and cause far more serious symptoms such as:
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
How can I protect myself?
According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid “wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter,” and to rather walk in the center of trails. Additionally, they also advise that you:
- cover up your arms and legs when outside
- use EPA-approved insect repellent
- check your pets and yourself for any ticks
- tumble dry your clothes on high heat for 10 minutes after coming indoors to kill ticks
Shania Twain has found her voice
In order to help her voice recover from Lyme disease, Twain revealed that she underwent two open throat surgeries as well as physical therapy. While she has recovered her voice, the Country Music Award winner admits that her voice, whether she’s speaking or singing, is not what it once was. However, that doesn’t mean that she has any complaints,
“My speaking voice is definitely the biggest effort. Sometimes I get a bit raspy … singing is actually easier…I have more power when I’m singing now…more character, I find. I enjoy singing again. Speaking is the more difficult challenge for me than singing, which, OK, I’ll take that!”
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Shania Twain/Instagram
The Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome Study
Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research (CPCR) has announced a new clinical trial for those suffering from Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).
The study will test whether psilocybin is safe and helps improve fatigue, pain, mood, and quality of life in people with PTLDS. It will be led by Dr. Albert Garcia-Romeu of the CPCR, in collaboration with Drs. John Aucott and Mark Soloski at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center.