COLLINSVILLE, Miss. (WTOK) - As part of a special assignment we are taking a closer look at the dangers of ticks. The tiny parasites often latch on to people and animals during the summer. As part of a special assignment, a local young man is sharing his story about how life threatening these 'blood suckers' can be!
"I started having heart issues, like heart problems, anxiety and stuff."
That's what Devin Coleman says he first started experiencing three years ago after being bitten by a tick.
"He thought he was having a heart attack one night because of all of this stuff," says Dakota Cason. "We didn't know what it could possibly be."
Dakota has been Devin's friend since high school. Because Devin was a cross country runner, golfer and had played football and baseball, Dakota, Devin and Devin's mom didn't realize that the symptoms were related to a tiny tick.
"It took us a year and a half to find out that it was actually lyme disease," says Devin's mom, Shannon.
During that year and a half Devin went through many tests to figure out the problem.
"We've been to UMC," says Shannon. "We've been to the coast. We've even been to Ochsner's."
After almost two years of testing, and two negative tests for the tick related lyme disease, Devin's mom says it was discovered that her son suffered from the potentially deadly disease Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can result from being bitten by an infected tick.
"We went so long without having a diagnosis that this was able to set up in his body to the point that it's now a point of chronic lyme," says his mom.
"I'm on a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, beef and pork free diet. That's because all of those things kind of feed the bacteria and make it worse," says Devin.
"My son would not be alive if it were not for my family, friends or from the support system we had," says Shannon.
Last year alone, Devin's mom says the family spent more than $20,000 in treatment, and his natural supplements currently cost between $400 to $800 a month.
"We know that we are going to be totally restored from this because we are kicking lyme's butt," says Shannon.
Over the past three years Devin has lost more than 30 pounds due to the illness, and he still suffers from fatigue, leg weakness and migraines. Happy that his current treatment is leading to some progress, Devin is hopeful that one day his life will return to normal.
"Even to a point of remission. I would be happy with that, and we're trying to get there," says Devin.
American flag t-shirts designed by Devin are currently being sold to help with his medical expenses. They're $16 each. You can buy them in Meridian at Al's Gardening and Gifts on State Boulevard or at Brand New You Boutique off North Hills Street.