WILD RIDE: Surfer and filmmaker Dianne Ellis.
WILD RIDE: Surfer and filmmaker Dianne Ellis.

Catching a break from sickness

WHEN surfer Dianne Ellis first heard of lyme disease, she couldn't imagine how it would later consume her life.

Now it is the subject of her new book, A Surfer's Healing Journey, which will be launched in Yamba this weekend.

Five years ago, the Yamba resident was bitten by a tick - a known carrier of the disease - and fell ill soon after, but initial tests returned a negative result for lyme disease.

A week later she went to hospital with symptoms similar to a heart attack and was sent home with Valium after doctors told her she'd had an anxiety attack.

Six months later she was back in hospital, and this time the medical staff sent her home with antidepress-ants.

By this stage, Ms Ellis was so sick she could barely walk, sleep or eat.

In a last-ditch attempt, she sought help from a natural health practitioner in Mullumbimby, who prescribed two cups of alfalfa leaf tea a day.

She credited the natural remedy with saving her life.

"The first 20 years I just put my hands in the doctors' and let them do what they wanted," Ms Ellis said.

"I became so sick, I had to get to the bottom of the problems."

In an effort to find out more about her mystery illness, the 44-year-old researched lyme disease again and found she had most of the symptoms.

"I realised, without doubt, that was the illness I had," she said.

"The problem is that lyme disease is not acknowledged by the Australian Government, so not many people are knowledgeable about it or how to treat it."

Since then, Ms Ellis has tried a number of natural therapies and treatments to relieve her symptoms, and while she is still on the mend, the certified breath work practitioner is back living life to the full.

She can often be found at Yamba and Angourie's main surf breaks, which has also helped relieve cramping and tingling symptoms.

"When I first started back surfing, I thought, 'Oh my God, this is the best thing in the world,' " she said.

On Saturday, Ms Ellis will launch A Surfer's Healing Journey, which chronicles her experience with lyme disease and her journey back to health.

"I just felt like I needed to share the information that I'd found and maybe help other people," she said

The launch is at the Yamba Cinema from 4pm and will coincide with a preview of her new surf film Ocean Ecstasy and the launch of Friends of Natural Therapy.

To RSVP, email info@ dianneellis.com.au.

Ms Ellis encouraged anyone with symptoms of tingling, cramping or fatigue to phone her on 0428 285 047.

What is it?

 Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria that infects humans from the bite of infected ticks.

 It is called "the great imitator" because it can imitate many other diseases such as MS, Parkinson's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.

 Lyme disease can affect any organ in the body, including muscles and joints, the heart, gastro-intestinal system and neurological system.

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