It took country music megastar Shania Twain years to find out what was causing mini-blackouts and dizziness while she was performing. Falling off the stage became a real fear for the five-time Grammy winner.
The answer was a tick bite she got while riding a horse in 2003. In the middle of a massive tour for her “Up!” album, Twain, now 56, had Lyme disease.
It would take more years to figure out how the ensuing complications were affecting her voice, as well as surgery to restore her vocal chords.
Twain discussed the impact of having chronic sickness from the tick bite in her Netflix documentary, “Not Just a Girl.”
“My voice was never the same again,” she said. “I thought I’d lost my voice forever. I thought that was it; I would never, ever sing again.”
As WFMZ reported, “The singer’s chronic sickness contributed to her developing voice disorder dysphonia, leading to throat surgery and therapy.”
She underwent two extensive throat surgeries before recovering the ability to sing. But Twain said her singing voice changed and speaking is even more challenging.
Other celebrities have also openly discussed their experiences — never good — with Lyme disease. The Independent’s list includes actor Alex Baldwin, singer Justin Bieber, supermodel Bella Hadid and singer Avril Lavigne.
“My brain would get all foggy and I couldn’t see,” according to a YouTube video of Hadid.
Lavigne did a livestream benefit concert in 2020 to support her Avril Lavigne Foundation and Global Lyme Alliance, as Rolling Stone reported. In an Instagram post shouting out Bieber in 2020, she said that “for the better part of two years, I was really sick and fighting for my life.”
Baldwin told Prevention that tick bites 20 years ago left him “bedridden with cold sweats, joint pain, soreness and exhaustion.” He said he still gets “inexplicable joint pain” sometimes.
The Guardian quoted Bieber: “It’s been a rough couple years but getting the right treatment that will help treat this so far incurable disease and I will be back and better than ever.”
About Lyme disease
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is contracted from the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Sometimes the bite is visible in the form of a bull’s-eye-shaped rash where the bite happened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a blood test is usually required to diagnose the condition, which is marked by fatigue, headaches, fever and body aches. Left untreated, it can spread to the heart, joints and nervous system.
Healthline reports that depression is another common symptom — and it can linger for a long time.
CDC said Lyme disease is the “most common vector-borne disease in the United States,” but can be prevented by using insect repellent, removing ticks immediately and reducing their habitat. Sometimes, CDC reports, infected ticks carry other diseases, too.
Typically, antibiotics help symptoms clear in a matter of weeks. But 10-20% of those who get Lyme disease develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, where symptoms last.
Where a diagnosis was never officially made and the disease treated, people can suffer chronic Lyme, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
About 30,000 cases are reported to the CDC and local health departments in the United States each year, according to the public health agency.