The medical world evolves almost daily. New vaccines and treatments are developed at an unbelievable rate, and millions have been successfully treated worldwide for all types of ailments. However, a medical mystery sometimes presents itself to doctors and completely baffles them.
Julie Redfern from Lancashire was playing the popular computer game Tetris eight years ago when she heard a funny squeaking sound. She couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, until she realized the sound occurred every time she moved her eyes from side to side. Julie was hearing the sound of her own eyeballs.
In the years that followed, Julie became aware that she could also hear her blood coursing through her veins. Her own chewing was so loud to her that she missed out on the conversation around the dinner table. Perhaps the worst of it all came when her condition became so bad that her eyes would literally shake in their sockets when her office phone rang.
Julie was diagnosed with SCDS (superior canal dehiscence syndrome). This is a very rare medical condition that causes the bones in the inner ear to lose density, resulting in very sensitive hearing.
Doctors only became aware of this medical condition during the ’90s. A pioneer surgery was performed on Julie. Her doctors successfully restored normal hearing to one of her ears, which has given her hope that the other ear can be cured as well.
Twelve-year-old Landon Jones woke up one morning in 2013 without his usual appetite. He felt very faint and couldn’t stop coughing because thick phlegm blocked his chest. His parents rushed him to hospital where doctors discovered an infection in the boy’s left lung. They wasted no time in treating Landon and the infection was soon handled.
However, his appetite didn’t return when he got back home. Because of the lack of will to eat or drink anything, Landon rapidly lost weight. Before his family knew what hit them, Landon lost 16 kilograms (36 lb).
Doctors are at a loss as to what is causing Landon to lack hunger and thirst. In the year since Landon’s infection, his parents have taken him to medical experts in five different cities with no success. All they know is that Landon might well be the only person on the planet with this condition.
Landon now has to be reminded on a constant basis to eat and drink. Even his teachers have gotten into the habit of making sure he ingests food and water during school hours. Doctors are currently working to figure out whether Landon might have a dysfunctional hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls hunger and thirst. They are also looking into the medication that Landon is on that controls what doctors call absence seizures. The exact cause of Landon’s illness remains unclear at this stage.
About a month and a half before Christmas 2013, nine-year-old Marysue Grivna’s mother took her to hospital to get a flu shot. This year, the little girl will be celebrating Christmas confined to a wheelchair and unable to express herself as vocally as she could last year.
Just three days after receiving the flu shot, Marysue struggled to get up in the morning and was unable to speak. Terrified, her parents rushed her to hospital. They were shocked when doctors diagnosed their daughter with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Known as ADEM, the disease begins when the immune system attacks myelin, which encases nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The white matter inside the brain and spine become extremely vulnerable without the myelin. Once this covering is broken through, paralysis and blindness can occur.
Doctors cannot confirm or deny the parents’ accusation that the flu shot Marysue received is the cause of her illness. Carla and Steven Grivna have done extensive research and refuse to believe the vaccine isn’t to blame. Medical experts confirmed that the exact cause of ADEM is unknown and that the results of several tests done on Marysue are all inconclusive when it comes to determining the manner in which the girl contracted the disease.
The future looks bleak for Marysue, even though doctors believe there is a slight chance her symptoms might be reversible. Her father has taken to carrying his daughter everywhere, unable to help her in any other way.
At the beginning of this year, Yemeni father Mohammad Saleh Al Jaharani was astonished when his eight-year-old daughter Saadia started crying tiny stones instead of tears.
Saadia is one of 12 children born to Mohammed from two wives. She is the only one of her siblings with this strange condition. No one has been able to give Saadia a diagnosis, nor can doctors find anything out of the ordinary with her eyes.
Another girl in the same region is the only other confirmed case of crying stones. Fifteen-year-old Saboura Hassan Al Fagiah experienced the same tiny stone tears. She also suffered from a distended abdomen and would become unconscious for hours at a time. Saboura was treated in Jordan and seems to have recovered.
The same is unfortunately not true for Saadia. All the doctors she has seen are unable to help her. The locals in her village whisper that the girl might be possessed or under a spell.
Her father confirmed during an interview that Saadia also cries normal tears at times and that the stones mostly appear during the late afternoon and at night. Luckily, she is in no pain even though up to 100 little stones sometimes appear in one day.
In what many people would dismiss as an incident of mass hysteria, 12 girls from a high school in New York shared an experience that left medical doctors searching for an explanation.
After taking a nap one day in 2011, one of the students, Thera Sanchez, woke up with uncontrollable limbs and vocal tics. Something like this had never happened to her before, especially not the strange verbal outbursts that made her seem like she was suffering from Tourette’s syndrome.
Stranger than this was the fact that 11 other girls from Sanchez’s high school developed the same symptoms. A neurologist diagnosed all the girls with a conversion disorder. In other words, he believed the incident to be a case of mass hysteria. Others doctors believed that stress was the main factor causing these strange symptoms. Two mothers, including Thera’s mother, have challenged the doctors’ findings. Even though health officials made sure nothing at the school itself was making the girls sick, the two mothers were not given proof of the investigations conducted by these officials and are unsatisfied with their findings.
Thera was still twitching, stuttering, and suffering from uncontrollable verbal outbursts weeks later during a media interview. To date, no satisfactory explanation has been given for the incident.
By the time Brooke Greenberg passed away at the age of 20, she had never learned to speak and had to be pushed around in a stroller. Even though she was getting older, her body refused to age. At the time of her death, Brooke’s mental capacity was that of a toddler. She was still the size of a baby.
Scientists and doctors are still unable to come up with an explanation for Brooke’s medical condition. Brooke was a “miracle” baby since birth. She survived several stomach ulcers and a stroke. She also made it through a brain tumor that caused her to sleep for two weeks. When she finally woke up, the tumor was gone. Doctors were mystified.
The way Brooke’s body developed over the years was also very strange. At the age of 16, she still hadn’t lost her baby teeth, but her bones were thought to be the same as those of a 10-year-old (except in size, of course). Her hair and fingernails continued growing normally. She was able to recognize her siblings and express happiness.
A retired medical expert from the University Of Florida Medical School, Richard F. Walker, has made it his life’s mission to find out what causes this medical mystery known as Syndrome X. He is also studying similar cases including a young girl of eight who weighs only 5 kilograms (11 lb) and a 29-year-old whose body resembles that of a preadolescent boy.
New Zealand native Lisa Reid had no hope of ever regaining her sight after she lost it at age 11. Then, at the age of 24, she accidentally bumped her head and woke up the next morning with her sight restored.
As a child, Lisa was diagnosed with a tumor that pressed down so severely on her optic nerve that she lost her sight. Doctors could do nothing for Lisa, who learned to deal with her condition and got herself a guide dog.
Indirectly, Ami the guide dog helped Lisa regain her sight. One night in 2000, Lisa knelt down on the floor so she could kiss her beloved dog goodnight. She struck her head on a coffee table while attempting to reach Ami.
Nothing happened right away except perhaps a slight headache, but when Lisa woke the next morning, it was no longer dark. She could see as clearly as she could before she lost her sight. Fourteen years later, Lisa still has her sight.
Lockjaw is common in dogs, but a similar case in a newborn baby perplexed doctors at an Ottawa hospital earlier this year.
Little Wyatt couldn’t open his mouth to cry when he was born in June 2013, and he spent the first three months of his life in hospital while doctors tried to figure out how to help him. Unable to assist the little boy in unlocking his jaw, doctors finally sent him home and confirmed to the baby’s parents that there was no glaring reason for their son’s condition.
During the following months, Wyatt nearly lost his life on six occasions due to choking and the inability to gulp air through his closed mouth. His saliva builds up in his mouth and blocks his airway because he is unable to drool like most babies.
In a controversial move, medical experts have implemented the use of Botox to try and relax Wyatt’s jaw and this helped the little boy to open his mouth slightly. However, the problem still needs resolving as the dangers associated with this condition are likely to increase as he grows older.
This June, Wyatt had to eat his birthday dinner through a feeding tube directly into his stomach. His parents have also recently noticed that their baby doesn’t blink both his eyes at the same time. Ongoing tests are currently the only hope his parents have to find a solution.
A funny feeling of confusion and weakness prompted Rosemarie Dore to head to the nearest hospital back in 2006. She was suffering a stroke on the left side of her brain.
Before she was admitted to the hospital, everyone was used to Dore speaking in her native southern Ontario accent. Everyone was amazed when one day she suddenly started speaking with an eastern Canadian accent. As hard as she tried to speak normally, she couldn’t stop the accent from coming out. Doctors determined that on top of the stroke she suffered, Rosemarie Dore also had foreign accent syndrome, which most likely resulted from the brain trauma.
Further investigation into her condition revealed that Dore’s speech actually slowed down and started to change just before she had the stroke. Doctors believe that she still has the ability to speak in her normal accent, but the process of instructions from her brain to her mouth is not working the same way it used to and it therefore feels more natural to speak in the new accent.
Experts who have done extensive research on this medical condition noted that there were about 60 confirmed cases of foreign accent syndrome worldwide. One of the first was a woman from Norway who was injured by a bomb fragment that struck her on the head during the Second World War. Just after the injury, she suddenly started speaking with a German accent.
When she was very little, Gabby Gingras constantly stuck her fingers in her own eyes. One of her eyeballs eventually had to be removed. She also maimed three of her fingers by chewing on them.
Gabby suffers from an extremely rare medical condition that causes her to feel absolutely no pain. By the age of seven, she was required to wear a helmet and protective glasses to keep herself safe. In a documentary made when she was four, video footage shows the little girl banging her head into the sharp edges of a table without showing any signs of discomfort.
There is no cure for hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, the genetic disorder Gabby suffers from. In 2005, Gabby and her family were invited by Oprah to appear on her talk show. Here her parents spoke of the fear they experienced daily. They mentioned one incident when Gabby had broken her jaw and because she couldn’t feel it, no one noticed it for a month.
On top of all this, Gabby’s body doesn’t have the ability to regulate temperature the way a normal person’s body does. Gabby is now 14 and living a relatively normal life. Her parents are still keeping a close eye on her, and Gabby herself makes sure to stay within her limitations.