This month’s un­usual out­pa­tients in­clude a boy who can’t feel pain, a synæs­thetic sa­vant with a new per­son­al­ity, and more hir­sute ba­bies...

Fortean Times - - Strange Days -


An eight-year-old boy has bro­ken eight bones and reg­u­larly at­tends A&E – be­cause he can’t feel pain. Tyler Re­sug­gan of North­field, Birm­ing­ham, was di­ag­nosed as a baby with a ge­netic mu­ta­tion – con­gen­i­tal anal­ge­sia – that blocks pain sen­sors. His mother Claire, 33, helps him un­der­stand his con­di­tion by com­par­ing him to su­per­heroes, as they also ap­pear in­de­struc­tible. Tyler has frac­tured his skull, an­kles and feet, suf­fered se­cond-de­gree burns, and al­most bit­ten through his tongue. “He just bounces back from his in­juries and doesn’t even flinch,” said Claire, a nurse with two other chil­dren. “He has been to A&E 27 times now, and I can count at least 13 scars on his head and face. There’s no cure. Tyler won’t feel pain for the rest of his life. Re­cently, he went to a tram­po­line party and three weeks later we dis­cov­ered he had eight frac­tures in his foot and he had to be put in a cast.” D.Mir­ror, 6 May 2017.


In 2009, ranch man­ager Leigh Erceg, 41, ex­pe­ri­enced a trau­matic brain in­jury af­ter a se­ri­ous fall into a ravine, trans­form­ing her per­son­al­ity. Six years later, she had be­come a gifted artist and poet who en­joyed spend­ing time work­ing on math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tions. She had also gained the abil­ity to ex­pe­ri­ence synæs­the­sia – “see­ing” sounds and “hear­ing” colours while lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. The down­side was los­ing the abil­ity to feel emo­tions: she had taught her­self to smile or laugh as a re­sponse to so­cial cues, but was un­able to feel or un­der­stand the re­ac­tion. Doc­tors ini­tially thought she had de­vel­oped bipo­lar dis­or­der, but even­tu­ally brain scans led to her be­ing di­ag­nosed with “sa­vant syn­drome”. She has no mem­ory of her life or child­hood, and didn’t even recog­nise her own mother.

She isn’t the first per­son to lose the abil­ity to ex­pe­ri­ence emo­tion af­ter a head in­jury, a phe­nom­e­non known as a “flat ef­fect.” Os­car Guil­la­m­on­degui, MD, di­rec­tor of theVan­der­bilt Mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary Trau­matic Brain In­jury Clinic, said: “It’s not com­mon, but it hap­pens.” The loss of emo­tion is of­ten caused by in­jury to the brain’s frontal lobe, which is where a lot of our emo­tion and ex­pres­sion is pro­cessed. This can lock that area of the brain, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to ex­pe­ri­ence

emo­tions. It’s dif­fi­cult to pre­dict whether some­one who has suf­fered a trau­matic brain in­jury will ex­pe­ri­ence a flat ef­fect. “A CT scan shows that you have an in­jury but doesn’t pre­dict what that means in terms of long-term out­comes,” said Guil­la­m­on­degui. “We see pa­tients that have just a lit­tle bit of blood on their brain and three months later, they can’t taste or they have some emo­tional change.” Is­sues can oc­cur even long af­ter the ini­tial in­jury, so a loss of emo­tion could oc­cur even 30 years later. [AP] 15 May 2015.


Con­stance Bai­ley, 10, from Monkseaton, North Ty­ne­side, first dis­cov­ered she had an un­usual tal­ent by pro­nounc­ing words back­wards in her head while read­ing books. When she told her par­ents, Michael and Rachel, last April they be­gan to test her with sim­ple words and to their sur­prise she said them back in se­conds. They were stag­gered when she pro­nounced words like hos­pi­tal and he­li­copter back­wards with min­i­mal ef­fort. The pupil from Well­field Mid­dle School in Whit­ley Bay can pro­nounce most words back­wards, pro­vid­ing she can spell them, in­clud­ing tricky words such as amaz­ing, dinosaur and beau­ti­ful. “I didn’t at first re­alise how unique it was,” said her mother. “It’s the speed that shocks me.” D.Ex­press, 17 April; D.Mail, 18 April 2017.

bLeeD­iNG heLL

Without be­ing ac­tu­ally cut or scratched, Akhilesh Raghu­van­shi, 13, bleeds from many parts of his body – even his hair­line. It is thought he might be suf­fer­ing from a very rare con­di­tion sim­i­lar to hæ­mo­lacria – which gives suf­fer­ers half-blood tears. The symp­toms first ap­peared when he was 10, but his fam­ily only con­tacted a lo­cal doc­tor about his bizarre con­di­tion in July 2016. He was re­ferred to the All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences

Af­ter the fall, she gained the abil­ity to ‘see’ sounds and ‘hear’ colours

and spent a month un­der ob­ser­va­tion, but there is yet to be an of­fi­cial di­ag­no­sis.

“I bleed from my eyes, my hands, my head – from ev­ery­where,” he said. “I bleed from my ears, nose and eyes as well. When I bleed from ears it feels warm. It may hap­pen once or maybe 10 times in a day. Some­times, the bleed­ing will stop and won’t hap­pen for months. But in the past 15 days I have bled al­most ev­ery day. It doesn’t hurt when the bleed­ing starts but it makes me tired and some­times I have headaches.” Akhilesh, from Ashok­na­gar in Mad­hya Pradesh, In­dia, is usu­ally af­fected in the morn­ings. “Now things are go­ing from bad to worse as he has started pass­ing blood while uri­nat­ing,” said his fa­ther Arun, a farmer. “I fear for my child’s life now… I ap­peal to the doc­tors of the world, please in­ter­vene and help save my son.” D.Star, 9 Feb 2017.

Fortean Times has noted sev­eral sim­i­lar cases: Twin­kle Dwivedi, 12, from Ut­tar Pradesh, In­dia (2007 FT243:11); Calvino In­man, 15, from Rock­wood, Ten­nessee (2009 FT255:5); Yritza Oliva, 20, from Pur­ranque, Chile, and Michael Spann, 27, from An­ti­och, Ten­nessee (2013 FT311:8-9); and Marnie-Rae Har­vey, 17, from Stoke-on-Trent (2016 FT340:10). More hairy ba­bieS Last year, Ju­nior Cox-Noon was born with a full head of hair [ FT348:18]. Her mother Chelsea Noon, 32, is a hair­dresser from Brighton. Sim­i­larly en­dowed is Alexis Bartlett from Sydney, Aus­tralia, whose mother Ni­cola is also a hair­dresser, while her fa­ther Adrian is bald. At six months the lit­tle girl had lus­cious shoul­der-length locks. Sophia-Mae My­ers was born with a head of thick black hair. Dis­ap­point­ingly, her mother Laura, 36, from Bark­ing­side, north­east Lon­don, is not a hair­dresser; nei­ther is Kate Ma­son, 32, from Crowle in Lin­colnshire, whose daugh­ter, Prim­rose Hol­loway, was born with lush dark curls last Septem­ber. Amelia Lunn was born with a full head of auburn hair just be­fore Christ­mas. Her mother, Kayleigh Marsh, 22, from Nuneaton in War­wick­shire, was also born with a full head of hair. Natasha and Ash­ley Gent, from Medway in Kent, were told their baby would have “a bit of hair” af­ter wisps showed at her 20-week scan; then, last Jan­uary, Holly Gent was born with brunette locks that by May had reached her shoul­ders. ( Queens­land) Courier Mail, 10 Feb; Sun, 12 Feb; D.Ex­press, 17 Feb, 9 May; D.Mail, 28 Feb; D.Tele­graph, 9 May 2017.

LEFT: Leigh erceg had a change of per­son­al­ity af­ter a brain in­jury. BE­LOW: Akhilesh raghu­van­shi bleeds from his eyes. OP­PO­SITE: Alexis Bartlett’s im­pres­sive hair.

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