Syracuse, N.Y. — The mysterious fevers first struck Julia Allyn nearly four years ago, when she was a freshman at Colgate University. Her temperature hit 104 degrees, and lymph nodes in her neck swelled so large they cut into her trachea. Her body ached and she was exhausted.
“It was like the flu, but for only four days straight,” recalled Allyn, 22, of Skaneateles. “They would test for strep, they would test for mono, and everything would be negative. We thought it was just some weird virus.”
Every few months, the fever returned and disappeared after four days. Until the fall of 2017, when Allyn was a junior at Colgate. This time, the fever stayed, and brought along fatigue and excruciating pain in her joints and muscles.
“You know when you have the flu and your body aches? It was like that times a million,” said Allyn, who was a runner in high school. “I was an extreme athlete, and I couldn’t walk up my stairs to my room anymore. We could tell something was terribly wrong.”
The quest to understand what was wrong, and how to cure it, has consumed Allyn’s life. Since that first fever, Allyn has suffered severe migraines, tingling in her arms and legs that felt like bugs crawling beneath her skin, extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath so constricting that she gasped for air after a flight of stairs, inability to concentrate, and anxiety attacks that convinced her she was dying.
Allyn has seen neurologists, Lyme disease specialists, acupuncturists and chiropractors. She’s been diagnosed with strep throat, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. She took dozens of supplements and antibiotics, drank celery juice every morning for four months, and even shut herself inside a claustrophobic hyperbaric chamber in Florida.
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