From the outside, Chris Hausen looks like a healthy 52-year-old man, but on the inside, all he can feel is pain.
“Joint pain, headaches, neck pain, tingling in your hands and feet. The right side of my face mainly is continuously tingling, sharp ringing in your ears. It’s incredible,” describes Hausen.
Hausen’s health started declining nearly a decade ago and at the time, doctors couldn’t explain why. In fact, it was his dentist who told him that his symptoms lined up with a tick-borne bacterial illness.
“He said he could tell by the inside of my mouth that my immune system was crashing because I had a whole bunch of abscesses in my gums. He asked if I was still jogging in the woods and I said, ‘Quite often.’ And he was the one that brought up Lyme Disease,” says Hausen.
In 2009, Hausen was bitten seven times by ticks. Back then, the illness wasn’t widely known and no treatment was offered to him.
Now, it’s a disease that health officials in Ontario say is growing at a rapid rate, with more and more cases every year. The summer of 2017 in the Kingston region was particularly bad.
“177 Lyme Disease cases in the KFL&A area. That’s a three-fold increase from 2016,” says Mary Southall from KFL&A Public Health.
Southall believes ticks are only going to get worse and their main message is prevention.
“Ticks are here. We can’t do anything about it. So how can we prevent from getting Lyme disease and that’s the daily tick check,” says Southall.
As for Hausen, he has seen numerous doctors and spent his life savings trying to cure his pain, but so far he hasn’t had much luck.
He has a 14-year-old daughter to look after and wishes his health was better.
“When I look at my future, I’d be lying to you if I was to say I’m not scared. I used to look at a two-year window. Now I look at a six-month window,” says Hausen.
With each day being a painful struggle, it’s hard for Hausen to have a regular 9-to-5 job. He drives a school bus a few hours a day, but the rest of his time is spent resting his body. To help him out financially, friends of Hausen have set up a GoFundMe page to help.