The family of 23-year-old Kirsty Keep is asking for help. They desperately need to find out what illness has left her bedridden and suffering from incredible pain for the past 11 years. As for Kirsty Keep, this may very well be her last chance as she’s reached a point where she’s strongly considering ending her life to escape an existence marked by constant pain.
— London Investigates (@lonvests) February 23, 2016
Metro reports that when Kirsty was just 12, she was in the backyard of the family’s home in Maidstone, a county town in Kent, England when she suffered a seemingly innocent insect bite. A tick was seen as the likely culprit, but no one initially viewed the incident as a cause for alarm. Unfortunately, the Keep family was wrong; that bug bite marked a turning point in the lives of the entire family.
According to the Daily Mail, the wound spread across Kirsty Keep’s leg until it was roughly the size of her hand. The teen soon found herself hospitalized for a period of three weeks. Her nightmare was far from over.
A few years after the tick bite and subsequent hospitalization, Kirsty began to experience sudden and severe facial pain. She described it as “electrical shocks” across her face. This went on until she developed a condition known as Bell’s Palsy.
Keep’s issues weren’t limited to pain and paralysis in the face; her body also gradually deteriorated. Kirsty became virtually bedridden, too weak to leave her room much of the time. Although Keep does have good days, far too many of them are spent in a state of helplessness, feeling as if “her bones were snapping” and “muscles ripping.”
The now 23-year-old woman has since been diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune condition. However, the Keep family strongly believes the insect bite may have caused other severe and largely undiagnosed health problems. They cannot afford the specialist treatment that Kirsty needs to understand exactly what’s wrong with her. With doctors stumped and her life an unending cycle of pain and hospitalization, the young woman is reaching the point where she is nearly ready to give up on life.
Kirsty’s mother Theresa shared that her daughter had previously begged her to be taken to the to the Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas.
“When she has bad days you feel like you’re watching her go. She’s begged me to take her to Switzerland and said she doesn’t want to do it any more. That’s not something you want to hear from your daughter. You’re heartbroken every day.”
Kirsty’s sister Chloe Keep set up a GoFundMe page in a last ditch effort to afford alternative treatment options for her sister. Chloe said, “Kirsty spends 90 percent of her time in bed. She has to have 24/7 care; she can’t be left on her own.” The grief-stricken sister added, “This is not a life for a 23-year-old. The NHS don’t seem to know what to do.”
Over the past couple of weeks, the family experienced an outpouring of compassion from across the internet followed, with Chloe admitting that her “mail was going crazy.” She thanked the donors, who helped the Keep family raise £5,230 for treatment. She also promised that she and Kirsty would answer their questions as soon as possible.
Multiple commenters suggested being retested for Lyme’s Disease, with a few reporting similar symptoms that were ignored by doctors following negative tests. These commenters insisted that standard testing for the illness was always inadequate and made various recommendations for specialists and special hospitals to contact.
Some commenters had rather questionable suggestions, but overall, the desire to help was very apparent and deeply moving. That kind of compassion combined with a burst of funding and international exposure might finally be what gets Kirsty Keep the help she so desperately needs.
Though all of this originated with a single bug bite, it will hopefully end with answered questions and cure that will finally bring an end to more than a decade of suffering and sadness.
[Image via Kirsty Keep’s GoFundMe Page]