A Nebraska couple, Christiana and Brian Beck spoke about the horrifying ordeal of their 14 years old daughter Meredith because of autoimmune encephalitis, a condition which is sometimes known as “brain on fire”
Her parents said that it was a terrific condition and they had no idea about what was happening. Meredith shared that she felt confused and scared like as if she was going crazy.
Suspecting the mental health issues of Meredith, her parents took her to a psychologist who prescribed her the medications for teen anxiety. However, those drugs were not effective at all and did nothing to ease her symptoms and her condition became worse.
She became lethargic and started to hear weird voices. Her parents shared that she would feel someone’s presence and touch on her back but no one was there.
Read more- Is There a Vaccine for Coronavirus?
The couple said that she started throwing up more often and had sleeping disorders. They said that they had no about her condition and the cause of her problem. Even the pediatrician and psychologist didn’t know.
Then one day they received a call from her school that she had been found in catatonic behavior.
So the couple ran to the hospital and took her for an electroencephalogram test (EEG) but it didn’t reveal anything about her problem. They consulted different doctors but none of them could diagnose her illness. EEG detects the electrical activity inside the brain using metal discs. It is an electrophysiological monitoring and measures abnormality in the brain waves.
Eventually, a pediatric neurologist, Dr. Mary Rickard observed the deflated football-sized tumor on her left ovary.
Rickard diagnosed her with rare autoimmune encephalitis, the immune system attacking her brain instead of attacking the tumor which in response forced her body to make antibodies that attacked NDMA receptors in her brain. NDMA receptors are also affected by the mind-altering PCP drug.
An autoimmune encephalitis is a group of a serious condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the healthy brain cells and leads to inflammation in different parts of the brain. It is usually characterized by seizures, behavioral changes, memory difficulties, and involuntary moments, loss of inhibition and hallucinations. It is a rare disorder that is most of the times misdiagnosed.
Over the last years, autoimmune encephalitis has gained the limelight in neurology. Its symptoms posses a big challenge in diagnosis. An association between the tumors and neurological has been observed recently. Awareness and increased testing have led to the proper diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis. Although various clinical symptoms restrict the diagnosis and treatment of such conditions which influence the prognosis and outcomes of the individuals.
Rickard said sometimes it’s difficult to know the real cause if antibodies attack NMDA receptors, the principle on which drug PCP works on so it looks as if they are on PCP and that’s what they are dealing with.
After knowing the cause of illness and discovering her tumor, Rickard took her for surgery to remove the tumor, side by side treating with steroids and blood transfusion.