Alive and Kicking


We have all heard or read about of incidences of rare diseases, conditions and disorders that are horrific or shocking to say the least and we are naturally, desperately compassionate for anyone who has the misfortune to actually suffer from them. Some of these cases are documented through various media and vividly show the extremes of life that patients suffering with such illnesses endure.

42-15620487With such trends as the modern outbreak of Swine Flu, Bird Flu and various other forms of deseases that once were totally unheard of, it is small wonder that people worry and panic. Modern medicine often has its hands full searching for cures, and very often we have to be realisitic with ourselves and realise that some cases are just so rear, that study is difficult and cures are many many years away.

One thing that has struck me when watching such programs about patients living with some really debilitating illnesses is the way in which they approach their affliction with a positive mental attitude. I recall watching a program about two teenagers in the US who had an illness where the skin literally melted off their body if exposed to the sun or any form of radiation. Yet both were such wonderful children, driven by a desire to live a normal life, and achieve all they could in the time they had.

This is a common trend in most people suffering from serious illnesses, and is something I believe that we can draw lessons from. I think that people who live each day as if it were their last, never really knowing which day will be there last, discover the true meaning of the value of life, how precious each day is, and how meaningful every interaction we have in its overall impact on our lives. Learning to appreciate every chance we have would make such a difference in our lives. Trying as much as possible to treat others as you’d expect to be treated, and finding good in everything, even if it appears bad would make an amazing impact on our daily lives.

It started me thinking, and I’ve read a few blogs and medical stories now about the rear and totally bizarre illnesses that exist on our planet. Some so strange they quite beggar belief. I’ve listed a few below that are very rear, never have I heard about them till I began to read about them, and thought I’d just share with you some of the totally weird sicknesses that befall people around us and make us very very lucky indeed. Not only should we rejoice that we do not have to live with such crazy illnesses, but stop for a moment and consider what it’d be like living with such an illness, and what potentially we could learn from those who have suffered at the hands of these rear conditions.

Some conditions seem particularly bizarre and which thankfully, are so rare, that most of us will probably never have heard of them. The following represents just some of these strange afflictions.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

This syndrome is also known as Micropsia. Individuals appear to have a malfunction in the way their brain processes visual information despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with their eyes. Objects, humans, parts of humans and animals etc. are perceived by the sufferer as being much smaller than what they actually are in reality. For example, imagine looking at your pet dog and seeing it as the size of small mouse or looking at another human who may in fact be six feet tall but who looks tiny and in no way a reflection of their actual size. Strangely, the perception persists even when the sufferer has their eyes closed. Some scholars believe that Lewis Carroll (who wrote Alice in Wonderland) may have suffered from this condition himself.

Jumping Frenchman of Maine Disorder 

This is an extremely rare disorder first described by G. M Beard in 1878 and is believed to have been first observed in French Canadian Lumberjacks. Sufferers have a sudden and an abnormal reaction to stimuli. For example, when given a sudden command in a loud enough voice the individual will carry out that command instantly and without a thought, even if you tell them to hit out a loved one, or throw an object. Also, on hearing unfamiliar or foreign phrases they will often repeat them over and over again uncontrollably. Other symptoms include extreme jerky movements whenever a loud noise is heard, hence the “jumping” aspect to this disorder.

Walking Corpse Syndrome

People suffering from this condition may believe that they have lost parts of their bodies or even their souls and some might go as far as to really believe that they are already dead and are indeed a walking corpse, even maintaining that they can smell their own rotting flesh and can feel the worms eating at them. It has also been associated with psychosis linked to drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine and to schizophrenia. Now that is surely a strong enough reason to stay well away from the white powders and uppers and downers.

Fish Odour Syndrome

A rare disorder where the body cannot produce a substance known as FM03 or monooxygenase 3 and as a result, its ability to break down Trimethylamine is impaired. The result of this is most unpleasant as it causes the person’s sweat, urine and breath to give off a very strong and fishy odour or a smell like that of rotten eggs.

Alien Hand Syndrome

This unusual neurological disorder is where one hand appears to take on a personality all of its own and acts in such a way that is completely out of control in relation to what the person wants to do. For example the alien hand may unbutton shirts or remove clothing whilst the other hand is trying to button up or get dressed. Sufferers will often attach a personality to their alien hand and will try to punish it for disobedience.

Capgras Syndrome

People suffering from the extremely rare Capgras Syndrome believe that a loved one or a significant other person in their life is being impersonated by an impostor. This can even lead to the sufferer attacking the perceived impostor. Sometimes it extends itself to the sufferer themselves who believe that when they look in the mirror it is not their own reflection staring back at them but the image of an impersonator.

Jerusalem Syndrome

Affecting around 100 tourists a year, it is a form of religious psychosis sparked by a visit to Jerusalem and is not confined to any one religion. Sufferers may believe they are prophets or messengers from the Lord and indulge in behaviours such as parading around delivering their own sermons, obsessing about virtue and cleanliness and will often ask sinners to repent their sins. The syndrome invariably disappears after a few weeks or when the tourist leaves the area.

Of everything that I’ve read, these were just a few that I found somewhat amusing to a degree. Some of the stuff I have read has been quite awful and horrific, and the type of stuff I don’t believe should be written about unless you’re a doctor doing medical research. It’s easy to see where monsters and demons come from when you read the stories of how some diseases reduce the human form to something quite grotesque and un-natural. I thank god for the blessing of good health, even if somewhat overweight, and hope that through reading these peoples stories I can learn to be humble and accept my lot and be grateful for who I am, what I have, and every day that I can live to the full.

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