It has been quite a few months now since the elder Hadid sister — supermodel Bella Hadid — has been missing from the spotlight. But not everyone is aware that she had been away to undergo treatment for Lyme disease, an illness she was first diagnosed with back in 2012.
While she has been quietly suffering from the disease for years now — almost 15 long years — and has openly discussed the same previously, it is only now that Bella has come forward with a heartfelt health update, assuring millions of fans that she is “okay.” But most importantly, she has outlined the mental and physical decline she has suffered for more than a decade while fighting the debilitating disease, let others living with the disease know that they are not alone in their battle, and above all, she is celebrating the fact that she is “finally” feeling healthy after the more than 100+ days of her recent treatment.
But before we talk about how Bella has employed her confidence on stage in her battle against her illness, it is time to understand what Lyme disease is.
What is Lyme disease?
One can contract Lyme disease when bitten by a tick carrying the borrelia bacteria. Detecting that you have been bitten by one in the initial stages might prove impossible as the site of the bite looks no different from a mosquito bite and oftentimes, obvious symptoms don’t show up right away.
Initial symptoms range from a not-so-noticeable rash, fever, headache, and joint pain to swollen lymph nodes and tiredness. But if these symptoms, which are very common in terms of other seasonal diseases as well, go undetected, they worsen as time goes by. The immune system is severely compromised, and the victim can experience muscle weakness on one or both sides of the face, irregular heartbeat, pain or numbness in legs and feet, etc (via Mayo Clinic).
As weeks go by and the disease remains untreated or undiagnosed, the worst cases may see damage to the tissues or joints.
Can Lyme disease be cured?
Normally, the recovery period depends on how quickly Lyme disease is detected. But often, the disease is detected very late and while the antibiotics deal with the bacteria, its lingering effects remain for years — often called “chronic Lyme disease” — as it can cause long-term damage to the nervous system and/or joints and it can take even longer for one to find permanent relief.
Bella Hadid and her health struggles with Lyme disease
Just days after, Gigi Hadid talked about Bella’s “long and intense” treatment in her Instagram post, and the latter took to the platform to give her fans a glimpse of the harrowing health journey she has been bravely enduring with a big smile on her face.
As mentioned, Bella was diagnosed with Lyme disease back in 2012, along with her brother Anwar and mother Yolanda.
“Living in this state, worsening with time and work while trying to make myself, my family, and the people who support me, proud, had taken a toll on me in ways I can’t really explain. To be that sad and sick with the most blessings/privilege/opportunity/love around me was quite possibly the most confusing thing ever,” she writes. “If I had to go through all of this again, to get here, to this exact moment I’m in right now, with all of you, finally healthy, I would do it all again. It made me who I am today.”
In her post, she also shared a diagnostic report from 2014, when 17-year-old Bella was suffering from countless debilitating symptoms, as well as pictures of her treatment, and recovering at home with her adorable pup. But even as she highlights the “almost 15 years of invisible suffering,” the years of struggles have only given her “gratitude for and perspective on life.”
“… this 100+ days of Lyme, chronic disease , co infection treatment, almost 15 years of invisible suffering, was all worth it if I’m able to, God willing, have a lifetime of spreading love from a full cup, and being able to truly be myself, For the first time ever.”
And as the forever exceptional Bella Hadid assures, she will “be back when I’m ready.”