Ruby goes Stateside to get her life back
Ruby Penney has headed back to the United States to revisit a specialist who has been treating her for Lyme disease.
The Pukerua Bay teenager has had a long battle since she contracted the disease and other infections from a tick bite after innocently patting a kangaroo at a Gold Coast theme park in 2010 while on holiday with her parents.
On April 11, Ruby returned to the United States with her family to see the specialist for the second time, amid hopes the treatment offered would improve her quality of life.
At home recently her body was sometimes racked with seizures and she was unable to stand without help, walk or feed herself, let alone contemplate normal activities 13-year-olds love.
Her passions of horseriding and netball were put on hold.
‘‘It’s like a rollercoaster that’s up and down constantly,’’ her mother Rachel said last week.
Rachel said she vividly remembered that fateful day when she flicked a tick off her bubbly, active daughter’s hair after Ruby had patted the kangaroo.
The following evening, the then 7-year-old complained of a stinging feeling on her neck, like a cut, but nothing more was thought of it.
A month later, back home in New Zealand, she developed a nasty rash, high fevers and headaches, which progressed to life-threatening seizures and hallucinations. Numerous hospital admissions followed.
Seven months later, her parents took her to Australia to see infectious diseases specialists after suspecting ticks were to blame.
She spent seven weeks there and was started on antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease, an infection transmitted via the bite of a tick. The treatment helped greatly, but after that was stopped three months later, she had a relapse.
In 2013, on her Australian specialist’s advice, the family headed to the US to see a tick disease specialist, who started her on intravenous antibiotic treatment, which improved her health significantly.
‘‘She was able to go back to school, start horseriding again and play netball,’’ said Rachel, who has given up her job as a nurse to care for Ruby fulltime.
Again, after that treatment stopped, she had a nasty relapse.
The family fundraised more than $50,000 via Givealittle, and the RubyRedTrust. Now she’s back in the US, hoping for the best.
Pukerua Bay teenager Ruby Penney, who contracted Lyme disease nearly six years ago after patting a kangaroo in Australia, and her mother Rachel, preparing for their trip to the United States.