Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

How a tick bite changed the course of Hayley’s life: Dundee mum on lasting symptoms of Lyme Disease

Post Thumbnail

Dundee mum Hayley Donnelly was all set to become a PE teacher when she was struck down by Lyme Disease.

Having been capped for Scotland in badminton when she was younger, Hayley was very fit until the tick bite, causing Lyme Disease, changed things.

Here she tells us:

  • About the symptoms and lasting physical effects of her Lyme Disease
  • How illness and ‘negative coaching’ affected her mental health but led to her business

Hayley, 38, had finished her teaching degree and was doing a post grad in PE, when she and colleagues took a day trip to Loch Tay.

“We got to the top of a hill and I had an allergic reaction to some plants,” Hayley explains. “I was distracted by whatever I’d touched, so I didn’t see the tick in my neck.

A circular or oval shaped rash around a tick bite can be a sign of Lyme disease.

“It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when I was on a placement in Perth, a circular target rash came up on my neck. And the left side of my face just drooped.

‘Something has happened to your face’

“Another teacher said to me ‘something has happened to your face’ and I thought yes it does feel funny. She took me to the hospital and a detailed test showed I had Lyme Disease.

“In the immediate aftermath I was floored. I was living with my parents and in bed for months. As well as joint pain I still had the rash and bad headaches.

“I had to get a PICC line put in my arm, for IV antibiotics. I had to go to the hospital every day for weeks.

“When I finally felt able to work I realised I’d have to leave the PE behind.”

The wound on Hayley’s neck, from a subsequent disc replacement, after her Lyme Disease.

Hayley’s symptoms worsened when she fell pregnant – first with son Murray, 11, and then with Fraser, 9.

“When I was pregnant I was off my feet pretty early on, and on crutches. I had to have elective sections as my hips had seized up.


“The Lyme Disease causes arthritic problems so I get six-monthly steroid injections in my hips.”

Now, 14 years later, Hayley is still affected by the disease.

“I can’t play badminton at any level any more or train like I used to. It has affected my joints – knees, wrists, fingers – and I have arthritis in my neck.”

Hayley with Murray, Fraser and her parents.

Despite her health issues, Hayley’s passion for sport remained.

And after having Fraser, she decided to set up a franchise business that can be managed by other people if her physical strength deteriorates.

Racquet Buddies – local badminton and racquet skills classes for nursery and primary school children – now has 35 local classes across Tayside.

Mental health impact

“There might come a point where I can’t physically deliver the classes. But getting involved with the children is manageable just now.”

Positive coaching in the classes is very important to Hayley.

“I vividly remember, after I beat the Scottish number two in badminton, when I came off the game, my coach had two crosses on a diagram. Instead of saying well done he had two negatives for me.

Having fun at Racquet Buddies.

“Being told I was not good enough from an early age in sport really affected me. I often wonder how far I could have gone if it had been different.

“The mental health impact of my early coaching has led to the positive environment we provide for the kids now. Access to support and encouragement makes all the difference to youngsters’ self-esteem,” she explains.

The next Andy Murray?

“We have sticker charts and star transfers for their t-shirts. This makes it rewarding and fun for them.

“If we uncover the next Andy Murray, great, that’s a bonus, but kids involved in sport and happy is what matters most.

Here’s a wee clip of 3-year old Jess tonight at Racquet Buddies Dundee working on switching from forehand to backhand and vice-versa and using lateral movement between each shot 👏🏻 The best bit though? This wee cracker has a smile on her face and is having fun 🤩🥰

Posted by Racquet Buddies on Friday, 18 February 2022

“Getting Lyme Disease was terrible at the time – but it has led me here.

“And, although my joints aren’t great, I would not have had Racquet Buddies, which I enjoy so much.”

  • See more information on Lyme Disease symptoms here.

Already a subscriber? Sign in