Medical condition made woman think The Walking Dead was real
The Walking Dead is one of the most horrific shows on television, with intense body horror at every turn. Thank goodness it’s just a TV show. But what if you thought The Walking Dead was real and, despite doctors’ best efforts, nobody could understand why?
After graduating from college, Lauren Kane spent much of the summer binge-watching TV, something most of us can relate to. The Walking Dead was a particular favorite, but not everything was well with Lauren. Her mother began to notice she appeared fatigued.
One night, the fatigue turned into something much worse, with Lauren becoming feverish and unsteady on her feet. Things only got worse when she went to the hospital, where she became violent toward medical staff.
Over the next few weeks, the lines between reality and the fictional world of The Walking Dead Lauren loved so much began to crumble, as she came to believe she existed in the post-apocalyptic world created by Robert Kirkman. Doctors said that what she was going through resembled the effects of the hallucinogenic drug PCP, but nothing could be found in her system and her brain scans were normal.
What was happening that made Lauren Kane think she was on The Walking Dead?
What happened to Lauren is frightening, but it does have an explanation. Writing in her book A Molecule Away from Madness, Sara Manning Peskin — an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Pennsylvania — reveals that Lauren’s illness was caused by a unique antibody.
Lauren had a tiny tumor in her ovary, and her immune system attempted to destroy it. The tumor included some cells that appeared like neutrons carrying NMDA receptors. In response, her body began creating custom antibodies to fight what was seen as an invader, antibodies that were also compatible with the NMDA receptors in the brain. Her body had developed a molecule that fits into the same receptor as PCP, the one that typically filters fact from fiction. With her body producing unlimited antibodies to fight the tumor, it was as if she was receiving a constant dose of PCP.
Doctors were eventually able to remove the tumor after treating the symptoms with immunosuppressant medications. Lauren had no memory of the previous two months following her surgery.
Happily, cases like this are rare, so you don’t have to worry much about waking up and thinking Negan is at the door.
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