At 22, Lauren has limbic encephalitis with anti-NMDA receptor antibodies, an autoimmune disease characterized by acute inflammation of the brain.
We’ve all wondered what we would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Lauren, she lived it. Aged 22, this young American suffers from limbic encephalitis with anti-NMDA receptor antibodies, a rare autoimmune disease causing acute inflammation of the brain. Highlighted in the book Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, published in 2012 and adapted for the screen by Netflix in May 2014, this disease is caused by the abnormal production of antibodies that turn against brain cells. . It can cause epileptic seizures, altered level of consciousness, but also delusions and hallucinations.
This is what Lauren experienced. In August 2016, when she had just binge-watched the series The Walking Dead on the advice of a friend, the young woman began to suffer from curious memory loss. “She would ask for breakfast when she had already eaten. Then she would repeat the same thing every five minutes,” recalls her mother, Kate, in the columns of the New York Post. Under the worried gaze of the latter, Lauren was then the victim of a malaise. In A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain, a book in which Dr. Sara Manning tells the story of Lauren, the professor of clinical neurology at the University of Pennsylvania says that after her illness, the young woman was taken to the emergency room. At first, the doctors found nothing abnormal. But Lauren’s condition quickly deteriorated.
She mistakes her mother for Rick Grimes
“Suddenly, as possessed, Lauren put her hands on the chest of a doctor, says Kate, she threw him across the room and dug her nails into the arm of a confused nurse. She had never was violent, but she was very scared, she was in survival mode.” And for good reason, in her head, Lauren was not in the presence of doctors but of prowlers, the terrible zombies of the series The Walking Dead. She also took her mother for Rick Grimes, the hero of the program, and said to him in particular: “I am delighted to have met you, Rick. I think I will go. I have to go because walkers cling to my arm.”
After several days of medical wandering, Kate took matters into her own hands and made a big breakthrough. On the internet, the ex-medical assistant read a study on limbic encephalitis and discovered that in most cases, patients have a tumor in the pelvic region. The 60-year-old therefore asked the doctors to check, but not being taken seriously, she had Lauren transferred to the University Hospital of Pennsylvania. There, medics found a tumor on Lauren’s right ovary, which was boosting her immune system to the point that the antibodies produced were attacking her brain. Operated to remove the tumor, Lauren regained her senses and became a writer. A profession that occupies him far from television, and above all, far from The Walking Dead. “She never watched the series again,” says her mother.