These striking photos show how a bright and bubbly woman had the life sucked out of her by a devastating disease carried by a tiny insect.
Mum-of-two Laura Brown used to spend her days performing with a local musical theatre group, working hard in a finance department and watching her young children at football training.
But all of that changed when her body was attacked by the Lyme Disease bacteria – transmitted by the bite of a poppy seed-sized tick.
Now Laura, aged 39, is bedridden but battling to raise awareness of the disease in the hope it will prevent others from suffering the same fate as her.
Laura, who was born in Nether Edge and grew up in Stocksbridge, said: “I am entirely housebound, the only time I leave the house is if I have to go to hospital.
“The physical exertion and extreme sound and light sensitivity causes me to go into seizure or have an absence episode where I am entirely paralysed.
“My family have learned to speak one at a time and be as quiet as possible to enable me to have some family time with them, but this is not possible every day – some days I am just too poorly or too weak.”
Laura is thought to have been bitten by a tick in childhood. She suffered a prolonged period of ill health from 2009 but the cause was a mystery until she collapsed at work in April last year.
Numerous tests followed and, after becoming frustrated by a lack of Lyme Disease testing and treatment available to her via the NHS, she was finally diagnosed with the late stage of the disease by a private lab in America.
Laura, who now lives in Staffordshire, has been fully supported by husband Simon, 42, children Sam, eight, and seven-year-old Katie, and parents, Cathy and Steve Hanstock.
She said: “The ultimate dream for me is to be capable of being a mum to my children again. To feel I could be a wife to my husband again, and hopefully return to work one day. I would also hope that, should my own parents need care in years to come, I will be strong and well enough to be there for them – the way that they have been there to care for me.”
n Laura is raising funds for her own treatment and also campaigning for accurate testing and adequate treatment for Lyme Disease sufferers in the UK. Find out more at Laura Lyme