Imaginary truths of online dating
So severe was her ongoing joint pain that she relied on a wheelchair if she wanted to leave her home. She wore incontinence pads because she occasionally wet herself.
Her breath alternated between nothing at all and huge gasps. A packed waiting room of patients and their relatives stared on in fear.
As a consultant neurologist, I have seen many seizures like this and I know that they usually stop quickly and spontaneously with no intervention, so I just sat beside her and reassured her as the nurse placed a pillow beneath her head.
When she was well enough to talk to me, she told me a story that I had heard many times before.
Although only 24 years old, Samantha had spent years in and out of hospital. Her first illness occurred at the age of 16 when she suffered a minor head injury.
Her patients suffer paralysis, chronic seizures and agonising pain, yet they have nothing physically wrong with them.
Neurologist Dr Suzanne O’Sullivan lifts the lid on the baffling world of psychosomatic disorders I saw Samantha for the first time when I walked into the hospital waiting room to find her lying on the floor convulsing.
Soon the convulsion was over and a minute later Samantha was awake.
As soon as she realised what had happened she started crying.
During that time she saw three neurologists and had many investigations, all of which returned normal test results.
Her doctors told her that there was nothing seriously wrong and that she would recover in time. The seven years that followed were punctuated with a variety of illnesses: joint pains, visual blurring, irregular periods, chronic fatigue and the seizures that saw her referred to me. She did not finish school and had no qualifications.
Following this she experienced disabling headaches and dizziness.
She was so unwell that she missed a full term of school.