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Sleeping Beauty Syndrome
I loved fairy tales when I was a kid, and the timeless quality of Sleeping Beauty always made it a favorite, though back in when young woman Louisa Ball was 14, a couple of years or so ago, a bout of what was thought to be summer flu became something very different, as, when Louise wants to sleep, her sessions of slumber can literally go on for days, no amount of shaking or prodding able to fully wake her.
Unlike that fairy-tale princess, however, there is no 100-year slumber inflicted by an evil witch, but now 17 year-old Louisa can sometimes be out of it for ten days or more, semi-woken by worried parents occasionally to use the bathroom or take some food, though when she does it seems as if she were sleep-walking.
Dad Rick Ball described how, in these states, Louisa would wolf down entire packets of biscuits or several bags of crisps, as though she were stoking up for hibernation, like some animals do regularly. Dietry advisers suggested giving her smoothies, vitamin-enriched, to ensure she got the right nutrition, though the poor girl could easily lose up to ten pounds in weight during one of her long sleep-attacks
This modern day Sleeping Beauty has also been prone to odd behavior patterns, sometimes featuring primal, offensive language totally unlike her usual self, and mood swings of varying seriousness, these becoming known to her parents as warning signs that another sleep episode was imminent. In the twelve months prior to beginning her college life, Louisa was sleeping for a whole week each month, missing loads school time and falling behind in dance classes that she so enjoyed.
In time, she was diagnosed as suffering from the incredibly rare KLS, or Kleine-Levin Syndrome , named after neurologist from Frankfurt Willi Kleine,, and New York psychiatrist Max Levin,, who had identified patients with similar symptoms between 1925 and 1936, there being niether cause or cure known of, though no doubt Louisa found it useful to know that her condition was not life threatening, and exactly what it entailed.
Doctors were surprised that Louisa was affected, teenage boys, who also display hyper-sexuality and inappropriate behavior being the usual victims, the symptoms.including, irritability, dream-like states and binge eating, traits often put down to average behavior for teenagers, though no known drug remedies exist to help..
Kleine-Levin is an incurable autoimmune disorder, believed by some to disrupts hypothalamus function, so that the part of the brain regulating libido, appetite and sleep misfires. There has been some success in treating sufferers with mood-stabilizing medications, as far as the moods go, but the sleep problem remains insoluble.
Louisa does at least have the consolation that, as she gets older, the effects of the condition will diminish somewhat, she already finding that sleep episodes are less frequent than they once were, but for now she will just have to accept that when her hypothalamus takes a funny turn, she will once again become the sleeping beauty, though hopefully not for more than ten days or so. At least, as she says of her past experiences, she always wakes up feeling very refreshed. Who wouldn’t?
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