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