Coachella: Harry Styles and Shania Twain perform together
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Born in Windsor, Ontario, Twain loved music since she was a child. Her self-titled debut album was released back in 1993 and since then she has garnered audiences both in and outside of Canada and North America. Having enjoyed huge successes in the 1990s, it was in 2003 that Twain would contract Lyme disease, which would change her life. After being bitten by a tick while horse riding in Virginia the star began to develop problems with her vocal cords. To make matters worse, alongside the breakdown of her marriage to ex-husband Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, Twain was forced to take a break from performing to recover.
Speaking about her battle with Lyme disease within the new documentary, Twain shares: “It was nearing the end of the tour, I was out horseback riding and I was bit by a tick. The tick was infected with Lyme’s disease.
“My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy, losing my balance. I was afraid I was going to fall off the stage.
“So, I was adjusting what I was doing. I was having these millisecond blackouts regularly – every minute or 30 seconds.”
In the past, Twain also described her ordeal as “devastating”, saying that she feared for the future of her singing career altogether.
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Appearing on Loose Women she shared: “There was a long time I thought I would never sing again. I thought I’d lost my voice forever.
“It took years to get to the bottom of what was affecting my voice and I would say probably a good seven years before a doctor was able to find out that it was nerve damage to my vocal cords directly caused by Lyme disease.
“Our voice is such a huge part of our self-expression, and for a vocalist, a singer, obviously. It’s devastating in so many ways.”
With concerns for the future of her voice and a divorce to manage, Twain reached a low within her career. At the time she felt like she didn’t “see any point in going on with the music career”.
Finding determination not to be beaten by the condition, the singer underwent multiple vocal surgeries to try and correct the damage caused by the bacterial infection.
The now 56-year-old revealed that the procedure was an open-throat operation, which aimed to stabilise the weakness in her vocal cord function. However, some of the damage was too late to fix, and the star’s voice would “never be the same” as it was before.
The singer also admitted that the “debilitating” experience caused her to avoid daily interactions like speaking on the phone or talking loudly at gatherings.
Back to performing and seemingly over the worst of the condition, Twain acknowledged that even in the future her vocal cord damage could get worse, and require more readjustments.
The NHS explains that Lyme disease is also known as Lyme borreliosis due to the spread of bacteria by infected ticks. Usually easily treatable if it is diagnosed early, Lyme disease can cause a wide range of symptoms.
Usually within three to 30 days after an individual has been bitten they will develop a circular rash around the tick bite. Often described as looking like a bull’s eye, it is red in colour and the edges may feel slightly raised.
Over time the rash may grow, and for some even spread to different parts of the body. Around one in three people with Lyme disease will not develop a rash at all.
Along with the rash, flu-like symptoms may develop in the early stages of the infection. These include:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- A high temperature (fever)
- Neck stiffness.
Antibiotics are the typical treatment for Lyme disease. These will ensure that the bacteria is killed off and may need to be taken for up to 28 days.
For those who are left untreated or undiagnosed, symptoms can become severe, affecting the memory, heart, joints, nerves and ability to concentrate. Some of the nerves affected are those responsible for controlling muscles in the vocal cords, leading to problems speaking and singing.
This puts an individual more at risk of developing long-term symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
This is known as post-infectious Lyme disease and is likely to be related to overactivity of the immune system rather than continued infection. Treatment for post-infectious Lyme disease may be referred to a specialist in hospital for advice and more blood tests.
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