How Ally Hilfiger Survived and Thrived After Her Lyme Disease Diagnosis

The fashion designer's daughter talks about her battle with Lyme disease, including her symptoms and the many misdiagnoses.

When Ally Hilfiger, the daughter of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, was bitten by a tick as a child, it started a long battle with Lyme disease. The tick-borne infection, which is caused by bacteria, can result in a cluster of symptoms that appear up to 30 days after getting bit by an infected tick. (One of the telltale signs of the disease is the class red bullseye rash).

Health spoke to Hilfiger about her symptoms, the many misdiagnoses she experienced along the way, and the toolkit she used to get through the hard times and achieve wellness. She also wrote about this and more in a memoir called "Bite Me."

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Do You Remember When You Initially Contracted Lyme Disease?

Yes, I was seven years old. I remember getting bit by a tick and my parents sent it off to the labs. And we got inconclusive tests back.

Do You Remember Getting the Bullseye Rash or Other Telling Signs That This Was Lyme Disease?

There are so many different symptoms. Reading became a challenge. Light sensitivity. But the neurological, joint pain, and nausea were probably the most aggravating.

Were You Misdiagnosed for Ten Years?

I saw many different doctors and I heard a lot of different things: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, growing pains, and rheumatoid arthritis. A lot of different symptoms and a lot of different diagnoses. A lengthy laundry list!

Can You Talk About How This Battle Affected You Emotionally on Top of Those Physical Symptoms?

One of the biggest issues I think a lot of Lyme sufferers have is that some days you can have good days. And other days you can feel really horrible and not be able to get out of bed. I think it's a lack of validation. And sometimes you start to doubt whether or not you're really feeling what you are feeling if that makes any sense. And you feel disbelieved.

After This Laundry List of Misdiagnoses, What Was It Like When You Finally Heard That It Was Lyme Disease?

It kind of felt like I won the lottery. Which is so interesting! I finally felt validated for everything that my body was telling me.

And Your Symptoms Have Mostly Subsided, Is That Correct?

Yes, I mean I have my good days and my bad days, but overall they're pretty good. I'm happy to be able to get out of bed every day and be a functioning human being, a present mother, and a partner.

In Your Book, You Mentioned You Had This Mental, Spiritual Toolbox That You Used to Really Control Your Symptoms. Can You Share Those Tricks?

Yes, it could be the phone numbers of supportive friends. It can be meditation groups. It can be different types of meditation and essential oils.

Can You Talk About How Your Desire To Be a Mother Was This Kind of Light at the End of the Tunnel?

I think when you're going through a hard time, it's always nice to have a goal and that was really something that I focused on. I visualized myself becoming healthy enough to have a baby and she's 13 months now.

And What Values Do You Want To Instill in Your Daughter That You've Learned From This Pretty Wild Experience?

I learned self-love. That's what I want my daughter to know. You don't have to be a victim and you can be a fearless warrior and survivor.

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