The Internet gives all of us limitless information, so many of us use it to research diseases and medical conditions. Though it is important to never diagnose yourself, it is crucial to research your symptoms if you think that you are sick with something specific.
Rheanna Jones was just like any other teenage girl, living with her family in Illinois. She had always been active, winning metals in gymnastics as a child, and playing softball in middle school.
Then, it all changed when she got to sixth grade.
This girl who was previously normal seemed to flip a switch overnight.
She became increasingly violent, was throwing tantrums, and had severe anxiety.
Jones also had tics—she was pulling out both hair and eyelashes. And she would sleep 17 hours a day.
All of this went on for years, with no answers.
Doctors became dumbfounded whenever they saw Jones; they had no idea how to approach the plethora of symptoms she had. The time she spent in psychiatric units didn’t help either.
“On the inside, it was a big cry for help,” Jones said about her behavior.
This state she was in was just as much a conflict for her as it was for her family, and she didn’t see an end to it. Her state of mind declined to the point where she dropped out of school and stopped playing sports as well.
It got to the point at which the family was close to putting Jones into a group home, as she was out of control.
“It was a scary time for all of us,” Rose Church, Jones’s mother, told Rantoul Press.
In 2013, the girl’s aunt, Theresa Hardy, was doing some research regarding her niece’s symptoms, as she wanted to get to the bottom of it. It didn’t take long for her to come across a medical-related post online; it was a mother who was describing her son’s symptoms from a certain condition.
And when Hardy read the whole thing, she was stunned. It was the same exact symptoms that Jones had been dealing with for years.
Every symptom she read off, Jones also had — anxiety, OCD, tics, and sleep disturbances, to name a few. The condition listed was called PANDAS.
PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections—a reaction that fights off infection, but in the process, damages a part of the brain.
The reaction messes with cognitive and emotional functions. It turns out that Jones had gotten strep throat in the sixth grade, and after fighting it off, there was still some bacteria left, which got into that part of her brain, resulting in developing PANDAS.
When tests confirmed this is what Jones had, she was given specific antibiotics to fight it.
Within one week of taking the medicine, Jones was back to normal for the first time in years.
Finally, Jones was able to continue playing sports, and most importantly, not struggle with her mindset anymore.
“For the first time, I could sit there, and I could breathe,” she said. “It wasn’t World War III in my head.”
Jones was able to graduate from high school in 2015.
Do you see the shining light over our backs? That's Rheanna's guardian angel still watching out for her … I am so…
PANDAS is actually more common than one would think, as it affects as many as 1 in 200 children.
This isn’t the easiest condition, as it took Jones’s family years to figure out what was wrong. But with more awareness, a condition like this can become more widely known, which will bring treatment to many more people who don’t know they have it.
Go here to learn more about PANDAS.