Success Stories
Image: Success Story: Ana Villanueva

Success Story: Ana Villanueva

*Names have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of our clients.

If Ana knew that her decade-long journey fighting an unknown illness, and her eventual diagnosis with Lyme Disease, was only the prelude to an even bigger battle with her insurance company, she may have given up. Luckily, she persisted every day to find answers while living in Prince Albert and get help.

Chronic symptoms

When Ana came to Share Lawyers, she was 45 years old and had been off work for almost two years. Ana had left her job as a paralegal because she had been plagued by a range of symptoms that had persisted for almost eight years and become progressively worse. They included blurred vision, brain fog, severe muscle soreness and tingling, and incontinence. She described it as a “flu that never ends." Ana was living without an income because her insurance company had denied her claim for benefits a total of three times. In fact, she had been forced to sell her house and move in with her retired parents to make ends meet.

Insufficient medical evidence

Ana’s insurance company had denied her claim repeatedly because her doctors couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with her. She had debilitating symptoms, but no apparent cause. Two general physicians; one rheumatologist; countless physiotherapists, massage therapists and chiropractors and an endless battery of tests and pain killers couldn’t give Ana answers or respite from her symptoms. She had even visited a psychologist on the advice of her family doctor to prove it wasn’t “all in her head”. Ana felt she was getting the run around from the medical community and her insurance company. Her own family was even beginning to look at her with doubt.

Taking matters into her own hands

Ana started to do her own research and came across a medical study about Lyme Disease. After reading the list of symptoms, it all clicked! Ana couldn’t recall if she had ever gotten a tick bite that could have infected her with Lyme, nor had she ever had the classic “bull’s eye” rash, or any rash, for that matter, to signify Lyme transmission. She had no clear way of attributing her symptoms to Lyme, but she didn’t give up. Ana arranged a Western Blot test from the U.S. and sent it back for analysis at her own expense. She broke down in tears when she received the results. Finally, an answer! She had tested positive for Lyme.

How Share Lawyers helped

Most Canadian doctors are not familiar with Lyme disease and have not been trained to recognize it, so one of the biggest challenges with Ana’s case against her insurance company was to compile strong medical evidence in support of her new found diagnosis. The legal team at Share Lawyers decided it was in Ana’s best interest to send her for a medical assessment with a Lyme literate doctor who couldprovide a strong report documenting her condition.The assessment, coupled with another Western Blottest, confirmed that Ana had late-stage Lyme. Since she had lived with Lyme for so many years without successful antibiotic treatment in the early stages, the disease had progressed into a chronic and devastating disease.

A substantial settlement and a new start

With Lyme-literate doctors and lawyers rallying around her, Ana finally had the support she needed. She was grateful to the lawyers and staff at Share Lawyers for being so knowledgeable abou ther disease and empathetic to her symptoms. Approximately one year since the day Ana visited Share Lawyers for a free consultation, her case was settled successfully. Today, Ana is receiving appropriate treatment and feels better than she has in years. She used her settlement money to purchase the home of her dreams. Her next goal is to return to work on a gradual basis.

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