Singer Debbie Gibson says that she was diagnosed last year with Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that can cause joint pain and other debilitating symptoms.
The 43-year-old star said she was compelled to reveal her condition after criticism of her skinny frame. "The first symptoms came in the form of food sensitivities," she wrote on her website. "I found I could not touch sugar, starch, caffeine, certain oils, etc., without having a severe reaction that felt like jolts of electricity running through my body.
"I kept eating a ton of protein and fat to try to keep weight on... egg yolks, red meat, you name it. But the weight kept falling off and I had a gaunt and sinewy look."
As she became thinner, Gibson said became concerned about wrinkling and received Botox treatment to smooth out lines on her forehead. But she had a bad reaction to the shots.
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"Both the trauma of the needles and the toxin itself wreaked havoc on my physical and mental state," she said. "I will never put this or any other toxin into my body for vanity reasons again.
"Five days after the treatment, I was texting my boyfriend and he noticed I was mixing up my words. I had trouble with directions and driving. I was terrified."
Eventually Gibson found a doctor who was able to correctly diagnose her with Lyme disease and treated her with antibiotics. "I actually feel like me again," she said.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria carried by deer ticks. After a person is bitten by an infected tick, they may suffer a rash, fever, headaches, and fatigue. If the illness goes untreated, it can lead to arthritis-like symptoms and heart problems.
Some 30,000 Americans are stricken each year, and the vast majority of the cases are in the eastern U.S.
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