By Ryan Bennett
Special to The PREVIEW
Funds are being raised for a local family fighting a heroic battle to maintain normalcy in the wake of neurological Lyme disease.
Shortly following the birth of her first child, Ashaya, in January of 2019, Pagosa Springs-raised Tasha Rayburn experienced difficulties that were unprecedented. There was muscle and skeletal pain, memory loss, intermittent paralysis to the right side of the body, chest pain, insomnia, high fevers, weakness and many other physical issues. Heightened anxiety and depression soon came, but Rayburn’s doctors attributed it to postpartum changes.
Problems for the former honors student and intensive care unit and sexual assault nurse worsened and thoughts of suicide began to appear, but specialists and her primary care physician continued to focus on treating her for postpartum depression with prescribed medication. Her symptoms rapidly worsened and her overall condition deteriorated.
Meanwhile, the experience was taking a toll on her mother, Melina, husband Ryan, daughter Ashaya, and Rayburn’s extended family and friends. In spite of her debilitating state and being in and out of the ER and countless practitioners’ offices, Rayburn fought for a more accurate diagnosis. Her tenacity and research paid off as she found a doctor who suspected neurological Lyme disease and rendered the appropriate bloodwork. Rayburn was tested in Colorado and not only did she have Lyme disease, but she also had many additional infections.
While she was now armed with a proper diagnosis, her body was in such a weak state from the disease having gone undiagnosed for several months that her body was not responding to the medications given to her. Instead, she began having muscle convulsions, seizures, more frequent paralysis to the right side of her body and became bed-ridden for 18-19 hours a day.
For her to have any hope of successful treatment, Tasha would have to leave home and travel to the Sponaugle Wellness Institute in Florida, where tests revealed the severity of her illness produced double the highest reading of some tests the clinic had seen in 22 years of operation — among them was black mold.
Rayburn has been in Florida for a couple of months receiving intensive treatment — the cost of treatment, living expenses and transportation is about $8,000/week with an estimated 20-week treatment timetable.
Prior to her illness, Rayburn was working as a registered nurse at San Juan Regional Medical Center and Mercy Regional Medical Center. Her insurance provider, however, is allegedly not covering her expenses due to being unable to return to full-time work after her maternity leave elapsed. This has resulted in her spending her savings, extending her credit and getting loans from family.
Ryan Bennett has started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising a minimum of $80,000.
Bennett said the time was right for a campaign to raise both funds and awareness within Rayburn’s extended circle, as close family and friends have had “an immense struggle” as they have watched her suffering.
“No new mother or healthcare professional should have to spend their life savings to get well,” added Bennett.
There is also a fundraiser taking place at The New Sheridan Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Telluride from 6 to 10 p.m.
To donate, go to the GoFundMe website, click on the “Search” tab, and type in “Save Tasha’s Life.”
By Ryan Bennett