Ally Hilfiger, the daughter of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, has spoken about the "excruciating" effects of Lyme Disease after doctors failed to diagnose the debilitating condition for 14 years.
Ally is believed to have contracted the disease, which is carried and spread by ticks, when she was just seven years old, but she wasn’t diagnosed until she was 21, by which time her body had been ravaged by the bacterial infection.
Ally Hilfiger – pictured with her father before the February birth of her baby – has spoken about her battle with Lyme disease
"I couldn't put lotion on my legs because it felt as if I was being beaten with a baseball bat," she told the Daily Mail. "I was like an 80-year-old woman.
"It had taken over every single cell in my body and in my brain."
The 30-year-old described the pain as "excruciating", explaining that she was often left sitting in the bathtub for hours or walking with a cane. She also had flu-like symptoms and trouble sleeping.
Ally said she was misdiagnosed with everything growing pains to arthritis. Subsequent tests for Lyme disease came back "borderline positive".
Unconvinced she eventually saw a psychologist who was familiar with Lyme disease. She recognised the symptoms immediately and referred Ally to another doctor, who confirmed the condition. "This was like winning the lottery for me. I was so relieved," the fashion heiress said.
Ally has now made a full recovery from the illness, and says she now wants to help support other sufferers.
Last week, the mum-of-one – who welcomed daughter Harley Elizabeth Hilfiger-Hash on 9 February – attended the inaugural Global Lyme Alliance gala, which was also attended by former supermodel Yolanda Foster. Yolanda was diagnosed with the condition in 2012, and recently revealed that two of her three children – model Bella, 18, and son Anwar, 16 – also have the disease.
"When my two youngest children, Bella and Anwar, were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in early 2012, watching my babies struggle in silence in order to support me in my journey, struck the deepest core or hopelessness inside me," Yolanda told the crowd in an emotional address.
Other famous sufferers of Lyme Disease include Avril Lavigne and Phones4U founder John Caudwell, who revealed in September that his whole family had been struck down by the condition.