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The Island of Misfit Toys

The Island of Misfit Toys

January 10, 2024 | By Tabitha Orth, IAES Co-Founder and President

Our son, Matthew is watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer tonight. It triggered the memory of a wise, insightful observation he had given me several years ago when I was recovering from a brain injury caused by autoimmune encephalitis.

My executive functions had taken a long vacay. They were MIA.  I rarely did something right. My memory took the hardest hit, especially my short-term memory. I needed a lot of help. That said, I was still “ME”. I was just – making a lot of mistakes. Matthew put his arm around me and tucked me into his side. This is a rare action of giving comfort for Matthew which made its impact more deeply felt. He said, “Mom, you are just like one of the toys on the Island of the Misfit Toys.” Love, acceptance, compassion, and comfort washed over me at the beauty of his words. Reassuring me that although I am a ‘broken’ Mom, I am deeply loved and he will always accept, support, and help me.

Those of you who know my son, know how engaging, honest, and forthright a man he is. You also know how much his autism impacts his life. A visual learner, Matthew has learned language from movies and cartoons. Social graces and social norms on all sides of the spectrum are gleamed through family film entertainment. So much of his understanding of the world, nature, history, science, and the like comes from documentaries on a wide range of topics. He saw I was ‘Mom’ and his Mom had “a brain problem” is how he described it. He told me it wasn’t my fault I “got a brain problem”.  I had been broken and his love never wavered.

Being reminded of the Island of the Misfit toys, had me searching the internet to look it up. I came across this article, We Are All on the Island of Misfit Toys, and it transfixed me. Yes. The author has this right.

The Island of the Misfit Toys Is a scene from the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. If you don’t remember the story, the Island of Misfit Toys is where we find a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie, a spotted toy elephant, a water pistol that shoots jelly, and all of the other weird toys that nobody wants to play with. The ruler of the Island–a kindly flying lion named King Moonracer is like Santa Claus in reverse–every night except Christmas, he goes all over the world looking for weird and unloved toys. Then he brings them back to the island where they form a community of the unlovely, unloved, and un-played-with. Eventually, the Moonracer promises them, he will find a little boy or girl who wants nothing more than a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie.

As the article below explains, the inhabitants of the Island of the Misfit toys are splotchity. Synonyms for “splotchity” might include “irregular,” “unpredictable,” “uneven,” or even “messy.” But none of these work as well as “splotchity.” 

The author goes on to explain that the opposite of splotchiness is uniformity: factory-produced items that all look alike, tract homes in a new subdivision, things that are perfect, uniform, balanced, symmetrical, and even. Such uniformity does not occur in nature; it is the product of human enterprise. Human beings equate beauty with uniformity and go to great lengths to eliminate splotchitiness.

If God stamps each person with a uniqueness that signals his love, then those who believe in a higher power have a responsibility, not merely to tolerate what makes people unique, but to glory in its divinity. We are unique, and therefore splotchity, in many different ways, all of them divine. We are all misfit toys—because that is what beautiful looks like to God.

Note:

The term executive function (EF) is an “umbrella term” which encompasses a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties which often occur after injury to the frontal lobes of the brain. Impairment of executive functions is common after brain injury and has a profound effect on many aspects of everyday life. Planning, problem-solving, self-monitoring, organization, divided attention, shifting or mental flexibility, and initiation of behaviors are often included under the term executive functions.

Attention and working memory are also sometimes listed as executive functions. The development of executive functions (EFs) is considered to be important because they are necessary for purposeful, planned, organized behaviors such as goal setting and attainment. Most of us take these abilities for granted and we effortlessly perform extremely complex tasks all the time in our everyday lives. Brain injury, Brain damage or active autoimmune encephalitis are all reasons that an individual may have difficulty with executive functions.

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https://bycommonconsent.com/2020/12/04/we-are-all-on-the-island-of-misfit-toys/

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Tabitha Orth 300x218 - The Island of Misfit ToysOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

 

 

 

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

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For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) Notebook

Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) Notebook


October 11, 2023 |
by Mari Wagner Davis, RN, ACM, and Tabitha Andrews Orth

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:
A diagnosis of Autoimmune Encephalitis is overwhelming on a good day for everyone involved including the patient, loved ones, caregivers, friends, and medical staff. It is rare, difficult to understand and diagnose and may include multiple specialists on a team of medical providers to treat and help a patient. This holds true for many if not all types of disease or health care problems and keeping up-to-date and thorough medical records and having them handy in an organized form is crucial for optimum outcomes. To help make this process less overwhelming Mari Wagner Davis along with Tabitha Orth have put together a wonderful paper of what is needed. We hope you find this as helpful as we have!

——

Introduction

Think of a care notebook as a 1-stop shop containing everything that family, doctors, therapists, and care team would need to know about your care. A notebook is simple and easy to carry. Physicians and health care providers keep medical records to better understand a patient’s prior care and to help inform their decision for treatment plans. Developing your own system for organizing medical information, or creating a personal health record (PHR), will help you stay on top of doctor’s visits, medications, and insurance claims. Providing your own medical records may help you receive safer and quicker treatment if you change doctors, move, or end up in an emergency room.

Your PHR Notebook should contain:

The first page of your personal health record should include your name, date of birth, blood type. Record names, medical practices, addresses, telephone numbers, and email (if applicable) of your doctors and pharmacist. Include the emergency contact information of a caregiver, family member, or friend in case of an emergency. Include the name, policy number, address, and telephone number of your health insurance company and a table of contents.

  • List providers, including the office medical staff assigned to the doctor as your contact person. This may be a nurse or medical assistant who triages calls and patient portal communications. They may be able to assist you directly or pass the information to the doctor to address directly. Some doctor prefer patients use the patient portal to expedite communication. Include provider’s address, telephone number(s) and extensions if available, and fax numbers.
  • Pharmacy address, phone and fax.
  • Emergency Treatment protocol from your Neurologist and stated diagnosis.
  • Medications and supplements: Document the drug name, dosage, frequency, start date, end date, and the condition it is treating, plus any side effects experienced.
  • Medications you are allergic to and other allergies.
  • Immunization records.
  • Hospital discharge summaries.
  • If you’re a caregiver and requesting records for someone other than yourself, facilities will only release them if a direct authorization to disclose records to a third-party form is signed by the patient. Most requests can be fulfilled within 5-10 business days; however, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) allows providers 30 days to complete a record request, plus a single 30-day extension.
  • Let your doctor know you’re creating a personal health record. Your doctor, of designated staff, may be able to help you find your medical records online, at hospitals, or other health care facilities. Doctor visit summariesand notes should include a disc copy of your chart which you will ask for annually. Make sure you keep the disc updated either from onset to present or from the date of the end of the previous disc. Ask that all studies e.g. EEG, MRI, any scans, be included. The after-visit summary you receive is not as detailed as the doctor’s notes. The doctor’s actual notes are far more detailed than a visit summary and can make a difference to a new doctor attending your case. Update your chart disc annually.
  • If several facilities are involved, contact medical records at the facility where an imaging test was performed and request the MRI, EEG or scans to be burned on a disc for your personal records. Sometimes there is a small fee for the cost of a disc. Some discs can be duplicated while you wait. Some discs may require mailing. The importance of having a copy of your most recent scans available is that it allows you to provide them to a new doctor. For example, an ER attending at a facility other than the facility where the scan was done, or a new doctor for a second opinion. Your copy allows a new doctor access to the most recent results which expedites your care. If you have an appointment with a new doctor and copies of your records were ordered to be transferred to their office prior to your appointment but never arrived, your copy avoids delays and the financial burden of having a scan redone.  If you or your loved ones have certain lab tests done regularly, this record will enable you to track changes from year to year and ask informed questions. Taking your notebook with you to all doctor visits advances your care. This section should include notations of the last appointment and scheduled follow-up appointment.  Get in the habit of requesting a copy of the doctor’s notes when making a follow-up appointment. Again, these are vastly different and more detailed than a typical visit summary. They are usually sent in the mail. Doctor’s notes are included in the disc copy you will be requesting annually. Your health notebook can speak for you when you are unable to remember clearly. Because supplement medical records from other facilities or providers on your team may take weeks to transfer, keeping copies of records as they accrue will help expedite your care.

  • A family health history (particularly parents, siblings and grandparents)
  • A personal health history (conditions, how they’re being treated, and how well they’re controlled, as well as important past information such as surgeries, accidents, and hospitalizations). If you can recreate a timeline of your whole medical history this will be helpful. Some keep this electronically as an email file that can be easily accessed.
  • Pharmacy printoutsthat accompanied prescribed medications. In a study, 40 percent of patients were unable to name a single medication.
  • Insurance formsrelated to medical treatment.
  • Legal documentssuch as a living will and medical power of attorney. POA and emergency contacts with a written release of information for the people who may assume your care.
  • Create separate sections for labs, specialty, and a daily journal that will read as a timeline
  • For students School strategies, IEPs, 504 plans, and contacts.
  • The journal should have the date, symptoms, medication changes, daily vitals if you keep these, accidents, and other pertinent information to the patient.
  • Copies of articles of interest.

 

Click here or the image below to subscribe to our mailing list :

subscribe - Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) Notebook

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) NotebookOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

 

 

 

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) Notebook

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) Notebook

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - Creating Your Personal Health Record (PHR) Notebook 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

September 27, 2023 | By Amanda Wells

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

The staff at IAES is proud to present to you the heart wrenching AE story of Hannah Wells written by her biggest fan and advocate, her mom! This journey travels a very long and bumpy road but also is one of resilience, never ever giving up and, mostly, this is a story of love!

——-

Have you ever noticed how many people, when they are encouraging you, will say, ‘Oh, don’t worry you’ll get there’ but what if you no longer remember where ‘there’ is?

When my youngest daughter Hannah was born, she was 6 weeks premature. On Christmas day of 1983, the paediatrician called and said, ‘If she doesn’t fight, we will lose her, it’s now up to her’! New Year’s Day 1984 he called again, ‘Come and pick her up, take her home, she is a real little fighter, she did it!’ That day when she came home in our arms, we had no idea how that little fighter would have to dig very deep, again, and fight for her life 35 years later!

Hannah was our social butterfly, she was popular with everyone, and everyone seemed to know her! Once she started to talk, she never stopped. Her Grade 1 teacher said to her, ‘Hannah if you can stop talking in class for a whole day, I will give you $20.’ Hannah couldn’t stop talking so the $20 was left wanting!

At age 35 she had been working as a Practice Manager in a Dental Surgery for 10 years. She was amazing at her job. Dentists and patients alike loved her. She was chatty, never took a sick day, and was always organized. Hannah would call me every day from work just to fill me in on what was happening and to touch base.

Around the end of April/ May 2018, Hannah got the flu. She was suffering from headaches and became deaf in her right ear. She went to a general practitioner, and he said, on the third visit, to see a psychologist, he did not believe her headaches were real!

Then one day, in early June, my husband (who was still alive) and I had just been to IKEA and were on our way home when my mobile phone rang. It was Hannah. She had called me the night before to say goodnight and was fine, but this call was anything BUT fine. She was paranoid, delusional, and hearing voices. She had made up some unbelievable story of what was happening next door. I got off the phone and remember feeling ice in my veins, my husband, Hannah’s dad, and I looked at each other and said, ‘What alien has stolen our daughter?’

The days that followed that fateful June day were horrendous. Hannah was in full-blown psychosis. She would call me up to 30 times all night long, as she had insomnia. Her thoughts were disorganized, she could no longer work, and she couldn’t remember how to turn a computer on, copy and paste or even how to unlock a door. She couldn’t change her clothes because she couldn’t remember what clothes went where. She had no idea what day it was or even who our Prime Minister was. She would take off in the car and we didn’t know where she was. She didn’t even know where she was. The internal trauma and also one of her symptoms were now causing unimaginable rage.

When this all began Hannah developed dyskinesia or involuntary and jerking movements. She lost an extreme amount of weight and was now 35 kgs (between 75-80 pounds). Her anxiety was through the roof, and she had become aggressive. Her hair was falling out in spots, and she had tremors in her hands. Hannah knew something wasn’t right but by now had no idea how to articulate it. She was living in a mental prison that was terrorizing her. She knew, in all this chaos, something was wrong in her brain but had almost stopped talking. When she did talk, she would repeat the same sentence for hours, therefore she was unable to articulate how she was feeling.

She/we needed help, this was not our daughter, and I was desperate.

I took her to a nearby hospital emergency department hoping they could help her, but sadly this is where the nightmare really began. Not one test was done except a blood test for drugs. The on-call psychiatrist took me aside to ask what happened. I told her, ‘Hannah has never taken drugs, doesn’t drink, has no past or present trauma, and no mental health in the family. I said this happened, literally, overnight’. I will never forget her reply, ‘That means absolutely nothing.’

Hannah was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and put into the psych ward. The only test done was daily drug testing, no neurological testing was ever done or even suggested. The psych wards in our state are still lock-up wards. She was started on Risperidone, but Hannah refused to take it and would spit it out, as she told us much later, it was making her feel worse.

After getting her released from that psych unit, we decided to take her to one of our large teaching hospitals. They took her from me, and I had no further contact with her. I wasn’t asked what led to our decision to bring her there. They placed Hannah in a room with no water, bathroom, or blanket and took her phone away from her for 12 hours, no one checked on her. They then sectioned her under the Mental Health Act again.

I was trying to speak to a doctor and when I finally did, he told me she had been on drugs, ICE, and that’s why the dyskinesia in her face and weight loss. I asked if he had her chart in front of him and the blood test to confirm this. He admitted he didn’t! Again, no tests were done on Hannah, we couldn’t get information about her from the staff, and by now we were desperately trying to get her out of that hospital and under a private doctor’s care.

To this day I have no idea how my husband got her out of there and got her an urgent appointment with a private psychiatrist, but somehow, he did! She was immediately admitted to a private psych hospital. They did an ECG (on her heart!!!) tested her blood for drugs and that was it. They put Hannah into 2 weeks of CBT, cognitive behavioral training for someone, who cognitively, was a mess! Her short-term memory was non-existent. She was unable to read, write or comprehend 2/ 3 sentences. They also prescribed new antipsychotics! Hannah’s memory and executive functioning abilities were in total chaos, but not one person suggested a neurological workup! As her Mum, I had never felt so hopeless in my life. My daughter was there on the outside, but on the inside, it was like she had left us permanently.

By the end of September and Hannah’s initial psychosis was at last dissipating. There were still the outbursts of rage, strange seizures where she would seem to be frozen, dyskinesia, and limited speech that was often slurred. She would still repeat a phrase or thought for hours, we called it her hamster wheel.

2018 turned into 2019. Trying to get through 2019 was difficult, to say the least. Not only had the disease traumatized her but the auditory hallucinations and repeated hospitalizations had bullied her. She was still very sick, and the doctors had no answers at all!

In 2020 I decided to take her to my dermatologist to check the alopecia (hair loss) that had begun back in 2018 when this all first began. She did a blood test and told Hannah she needed an endocrinologist immediately. She felt she had a thyroid problem. Her blood samples showed abnormal levels. The endocrinologist who treated my husband for osteoporosis, treated Hannah for Graves’ disease, but soon realized this was not her thyroid, there was something else going on and as she said, ‘it was above her pay grade.’ She sent Hannah to her brother who is an infectious and rare disease doctor.

During this time, I went with Hannah back to her psychiatrist who still insisted on seeing her monthly. I was stunned when we told him about the blood tests and the endocrinologists’ findings. He said, ‘I believe this is just a false positive and she just has anxiety and stress.’ 

By November 2020 we now had seen the rare diseases doctor who flagged her for Autoimmune Encephalitis, but he was stumped and believed she needed a neurologist. We found a neurologist who knew about AE and waited 6 weeks for an appointment.

During all this, my husband, Hannah’s dad passed away a few days before Christmas 2020. I had been caring for him for the last year and for Hannah also. I was exhausted!

Hannah and I were now both grieving the loss of a great husband, an incredible dad, and for Hannah, and the life that she once had.

It was 2021 by the time we saw the neurologist. He ordered an MRI, lumbar puncture (LP), and EEG. He told us the MRI came back normal, as did the LP, but the EEG indicated slowing in the temporal lobes, He said he believed she had Autoimmune Encephalitis. He put her on high-dose steroids tapering down for 3 months. There was some improvement after 3 months, so he repeated the high-dose steroids.  He then put her on Cellcept and steroids. He told her to come back if she needed him.

In April 2021 Hannah had a horrific reaction to Cellcept. The neurologist discontinued Cellcept, but she remained on steroids. He said he felt it was now probably too late to treat her! During this time, Hannah began to have breathing issues, but a CT scan did not reveal anything amiss. I was very concerned about Hannah’s bones with all the steroids and told her neurologist, as osteoporosis runs in the family.

April/ May 2022 Hannah seemed to be in a relapse. The only answer they had was more high-dose steroids. Hannah’s GP (general practitioner) was concerned and referred her to another neurologist for a 2ndopinion. This new neurologist, also, said it was Autoimmune Encephalitis and put Hannah back on another round of high-dose steroids and wanted Hannah to have full cognitive testing.

This journey was beginning to feel like one big roundabout that had no exit. Trying to get any proper treatment was almost impossible.

Her cognitive testing showed deficits with her executive functioning, word processing, short-term memory, and visual abilities were all very badly affected. Hannah was told she needed brain rehab immediately. The report said that this was caused by Autoimmune Encephalitis and damage to the temporal lobe.

The neurologist then said I will see you in 6 months and since it had been 4 years since this all began it is too late to treat Hannah. Her MRI showed a small amount of inflammation, but again ‘It’s too late to treat her now.’

At this point in this long terrifying journey, I was ready to scream. Hannah was now traumatized by the very system that is supposed to heal and help you navigate through a rare disease.

Exactly one week and one day after the neurologist sent us on our way for 6 months to Rehab which was possibly never going to happen because of the long wait list, Hannah ended up in a Private hospital Emergency Dept on her birthday, she was extremely sick. They suggested we go back to her endocrinologist. I was so frustrated we were back at the beginning again!  Hannah was devastated. She lost her career, her friends, her life! This disease is harrowing and traumatic, and you have to walk the road to somewhere …… alone!

I was able to obtain Hannah’s complete medical chart that included all prior testing and information. I was beyond incredulous at what I was looking at. Her breathing issues back in 2021 when they said the testing showed nothing amiss was a rib fracture. I was right, this looked like osteoporosis! All her blood tests showed inflammatory markers through the roof since her relapse in May 2022. Her GP couldn’t believe how sick she was. She was now having around 4/5 seizures a day. Her dyskinesia had returned, and anxiety and OCD through the roof. The GP prescribed Azathioprine and steroids, and seizure medication.

 I asked for a bone density and her bones were a mess, at 39 she now had osteoporosis!

I thoroughly researched all possible doctors we could contact and turn to review Hannah’s case. I found 2 immunologists; one was a neuroimmunologist whose interest was in Autoimmune Encephalitis. Both had 12-month waits. I wrote to both doctors a letter pleading for help and succinctly outlining Hannah’s case history and her present-day symptoms. Her endocrinologist was stunned she was back where she started 4 ½ years ago, she even contacted the immunologists. Both immunologists denied her an appointment. Their reasoning? She was too complicated and was in the system for too long.

 Then out of the blue Dr Martin Newman, the neuro immunologist with experience in AE had a change of heart and called wanting to see her in three days. Her medical file had almost 100 pages (and this was missing most of the beginning files!) and after 5 minutes he said to her, ‘So have they treated you with IVIG or Rituximab?’ Hannah said, ‘No.’ His response was ‘Why not’! Hannah cried, as she sat before someone who just maybe would now help her come back from the brink of the darkness of shame, guilt, isolation, and feeling lost, and she asked him, ‘Will you be able to help me?’ His answer was, “I certainly will Hannah.’ He started Hannah on IVIG in early May 2023 followed by two Ritux infusions. She will most likely be on both for the foreseeable future. Hannah is now, also, in weekly Brain Injury Rehab.

It is now 5 years since Hannah stood on the edge of insanity and a harrowing nightmare. Hannah had almost forgotten who she was and what it’s like to be ‘normal’ and healthy.

I am so thankful to Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of IAES and the IAES family. They were always there, whether I needed a rant or information, their resources seemed limitless. I had no choice but to learn everything I could about Autoimmune Encephalitis. I realized, for an advocate, knowledge is power! I am so thankful for IAES who gave me so much knowledge so as to keep advocating for my daughter.

After 4 months we have seen great improvement. She is mentally and physically up and down. Each day can be different, which we were told to expect, but her progress especially cognitively has amazed all those caring for her medically.

IVIG dealt with a lot of her physical problems. Rituximab kicked in around 9 weeks and she was amazed at some of the improvements cognitively.  Where almost ‘there,’ even though ‘there’ is different from what I had expected, but ‘there’ is more than OK. One of the remaining issues with AE is loss of identity and confidence. Hannah’s motto through all this is: ‘I was enough before and I’m enough now!’

After 5 harrowing and terrifying years, we have learned a lot. If you are an advocate/caregiver or even a patient trying to advocate for yourself, don’t give up! There will be someone out there who has a small beacon of light, a life raft for you to jump in, and most of all hope to give you the strength to keep going. IAES and their personal care held a torch for me to see and guided me to the tugboat whose name was ‘DON’T QUIT!’

Just find that light and keep your eye on it!

IMG 0082 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

Click here or the image below to subscribe to our mailing list :

subscribe - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That isOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

 

 

 

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical Attention

IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical Attention


August 8, 2023 | By Cindy Berry, RN, BSN. Reprinted with permission from IG Living

 

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

It is with great pleasure that IAES presents to you an article reprinted with permission by IG Living Magazine.

The IG (or Immune Globulin) community not only produces an online magazine but also a podcast and offers other resources for all those taking IG, interested in having IG as a part of their medication regime and for all those interested in IG in general. For further resources from IG Living feel free to peruse at their content at: https://www.igliving.com/magazine/subscribe.aspx

For many AE Warriors, IVIG is a staple in our treatment toolbox.

IVIG infusions are something most with AE have had at one time or another as a treatment option.

Many with AE, our caregivers and loved ones have been curious about the possible side effects of IVIG. What should we expect, how concerned should we be, when to seek medical intervention? IG Living has done a wonderful job in answering many of our IVIG side effects questions. We hope you gain as much information as we have, and we thank IG Living for let us republish this wonderful article.

——

NX NuFACTOR Blog logo - IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical AttentionThis IGL blog is sponsored by NuFACTOR Specialty Pharmacy.

Understanding the most common, mild side effects of immune globulin (IG) therapy is important when setting proper expectations during treatment. It is also important to recognize when unexpected side effects occur, and what to do about them.

It’s necessary to take measures to minimize side effects when receiving IG therapy . These measures include staying well-hydrated, taking pre-medications as ordered and listening to your body. But, even when diligently taking these measures, unexpected side effects sometimes occur. With the exception of anaphylaxis, most of these side effects generally occur after an infusion, and they are usually considered either moderate or severe. In every instance, they need to be evaluated by a physician, and in some cases, medical intervention is necessary.

Moderate side effects are those that usually affect your daily activities such as going to work, sleeping well, eating and even showering. The most common reported moderate side effect is a headache lasting more than 24 hours with a pain rate of 6 to 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. This means taking medications such as Tylenol or Advil does not help alleviate symptoms. Sometimes, this headache can progress into a more serious headache called aseptic meningitis.

Aseptic meningitis occurs when the IG drug has caused irritation of the meninges in the brain, resulting in symptoms that present like meningitis. This unexpected side effect can occur during an infusion or after an infusion. Patients experience an excruciating headache, as well as neck pain and stiffness, and generally, patients will have severe sensitivity to light. Vomiting is also very common. If these symptoms present, the patient should go to the emergency room for evaluation. Usually, IV hydration, IV steroids, IV antiemetics and IV pain medication are given to help alleviate symptoms. With proper medical intervention, patients usually feel better within 24 to 48 hours.

Renal dysfunction is another unexpected side effect that can be caused by IG therapy. This side effect is more common in patients who are over the age of 65, and who have pre-existing conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Patients should pay particular attention to any changes in urination, including color changes (dark or amber colored urine can signify a change in kidney function) and a decrease in urine output. If either or both symptoms are experienced, a physician should be notified, and the patient should be evaluated immediately. Since renal dysfunction is a potential serious adverse event, it is important to have periodic renal testing, which is easily accomplished with blood work ordered by a physician.

Thrombolytic events, or clot formation, have been reported in very few cases. Although this is a very uncommon side effect, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. Patients at greatest risk include those with a history of thrombotic events, history of diabetes, advanced age, multiple cardiovascular risk factors, impaired cardiac output and long periods of immobilization. If a clot is formed, this usually occurs after an infusion. Symptoms of a possible thrombolytic event include severe chest pain and difficulty breathing, which could be an indication of a pulmonary embolism or possible myocardial infarction. If severe chest pain is experienced at any time, immediate attention is needed, and 911 should be called.

The final, most serious side effect that is unlikely to occur is anaphylaxis. It is the least-likely serious side effect that can occur. Anaphylaxis usually occurs within the first 15 to 30 minutes of an infusion. It is characterized by a sudden onset of any of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing (chest tightness, bronchospasms, wheezing), changes in the gastrointestinal system (severe cramps, vomiting, diarrhea), cardiovascular changes (low pulse rate, high pule rate, hypotension/shock, chest pain) or skin changes (hives, angioedema, rash). If anaphylaxis is suspected, 911 should be called immediately. If it occurs during your infusion, your nurse will administer emergency medications to help control the symptoms. Medical attention is required and necessary, and 911 should be called despite the administration of emergency medications.

Although the list of unexpected side effects may seem scary, it is important to remember that while most patients will experience mild side effects, they do not typically experience serious ones. In any event, it is always important to understand them and to have your physician’s number ready. Always inform your healthcare team of any changes in response to IG therapy.

Immune Globulin Therapy Side Effects When receiving IG therapy – either by IV administration or subcutaneous administration, it is important to understand the difference between side effects that are expected and side effects that are not expected.  Since side effects may have an onset after drug administration, it is important for the patient and/or caregiver to identify when to seek medical attention.

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Tabitha Orth 300x218 - IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical AttentionOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

 

 

 

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical Attention

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical Attention

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - IVIG Side Effects: When to Seek Medical Attention 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

A Mighty Miracle

A Mighty Miracle

July 26, 2023 | By Rebecca Jablon

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

It is our honor and pleasure to bring to you the story of a young boy’s journey into the uncertain and terrifying world of being diagnosed with  Autoimmune Encephalitis from the heart of a mother. A mother who thru faith, resilience, determination and, above all, love found help across the miles and a fierce desire to assist others and raise awareness!

——-

Whether you are a parent or grandparent to a child who has been thrown into the world of autoimmune encephalitis, or into the world of rare disabilities ( or a physician, therapist, special education teacher, or social worker…) I was moved to publish my story “To Add a Miracle” to provide you with further insight and strength.  I wrote with absolute candor and honesty, sprinkled with a bit of humor, in an attempt to accurately portray the emotional rollercoaster that we have experienced.

Our son, Yehuda’s, steep fall into the world of autoimmune encephalitis began just days after the holiday of Hanukkah, the Holiday of Miracles, four- years ago, at the age of five.   He was born just days before the Holiday of Hanukkah.  As I approached the Hanukkah season this year and Yehuda’s ninth birthday, I suddenly felt a strong drive to sit down.  And to write.  And to write more.  Perhaps this is not a coincidence.

At the beginning of our journey/ FALL into the unknown, the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society stood as one of the lights illuminating our absolute confusion and darkness.  The brave volunteers, often facing current or past struggles of their own, held out lights of information, direction, medical advice, and most importantly glimmers of hope, for a family struggling far away in Israel, where knowledge of autoimmune encephalitis in the medical world is even more limited.  At the time, I was able to connect with only one mother living here in Israel, who was able to hold my hand and guide me on our journey.   I gathered additional armor and strength from the mothers whom I could reach out to through the AE website.   I was ready to grab onto anything and anyone who understood. I was desperate.  Who or What had overnight stolen our son’s words, skills, and identity?

How can a mother accept an unknown or rare diagnosis?

How can she grapple with an experimental and even further unknown treatment plan? 

How can a mother not throw up her hands in total despair when top neurologists eventually throw up their hands?

How can she survive when she screams out, yet no one can answer,

“What suddenly happened to my five- year old son?”

While many books have been written highlighting the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, as you all are painfully aware, autoimmune encephalitis is a recently discovered and often misunderstood illness with a shocking onset.  My writing of To Add a Miracle was fueled by my intense desire to spread awareness and hope, to strengthen mothers, fathers, and families, as they bravely journey toward recovery or increased acceptance and strength.

I will never forget when my then five-year-old Yehuda  desperately called out to me as I left his bedroom one night, marking the beginning of our descent into the unknown,

“Imma (Hebrew for Mother), my brain is broken.  If I die, will you…”

Total confusion, darkness, and piles of despair.  I wish that at the sudden onset of Yehuda’s illness, I had known about, and did not have to wait to discover the collective voices of the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society, to call out to me, and to hear my cries… to help me to not feel totally alone in my struggles. 

It is my hope and prayer that my book will provide you with an additional dose of strength in order to navigate the bumpy ride, that is our lives with special needs children.  It is my dream to be able to continue to help other parents, using all of the tools, both medical and sometimes emotional, that I have gathered upon our journey with Yehuda.  As I describe in the book, there is nothing that gives me more comfort than seeing another child and family progress and advance, even if that particular treatment did not advance Yehuda. 

Someone recently asked me, “So what do you mean by adding a miracle?”  Please order and delve into my book to find out.   There is no quick answer.

Thank you to all of the administrators and volunteers of the International  Autoimmune Encephalitis Society, for allowing me to take part in their holy work in my attempt to spread awareness of autoimmune encephalitis, through the writing of my book.

To Add A Miracle 333x500 - A Mighty Miracle

Book Description:

To Add A Miracle details with raw honesty, sprinkled with moments of humor and laughter, the dark and light shadows of the Jablon family’s journey; the story also highlights the tremendous strength of Yehuda’s siblings and selected “messengers of miracles” along the way.

With no filters, the story tells the author’s emotional journey as a mother in distress, facing piles of despair, culminating in a greater acceptance of the unacceptable, and a powerful recognition of the miracles that Yehuda has added to her family’s life.

While many books have been written highlighting the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, autoimmune encephalitis is a recently discovered and often misunderstood illness with a shocking onset.

The writing of To Add A Miracle was fueled by the author’s intense desire to spread awareness and hope, to strengthen mothers, fathers, families, and medical practitioners, as they bravely journey toward recovery or increased acceptance and strength.

Rebecca Jablon, the author of To Add A Miracle, tells the story of her sudden and dramatic fall into the world of autoimmune encephalitis, and resulting diagnosis of autism for her son, Yehuda.

  • How can a mother accept an unknown or rare diagnosis?
  • How can she grapple with an experimental and even further unknown treatment plan?
  • How can a mother not throw up her hands in total despair when top neurologists eventually throw up their hands?
  • How can she survive when she screams out, yet no one can answer, “What suddenly happened, overnight, to my five-year-old son?!!”

No stranger to the world of rare illnesses, Yehuda’s sudden overnight descent into the unknown rocked the author’s family. Who or What had stolen her son’s words, skills, and identity?

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subscribe - A Mighty Miracle

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - A Mighty MiracleOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - A Mighty Miracle

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - A Mighty Miracle

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - A Mighty Miracle 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

June 28, 2023 | By M Ledferd

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

The staff at IAES brings to you the inspirational thoughts and feelings of a mighty AE Warrior shortly after his AE journey began. M Ledferd has put into words with heartfelt elegance the way we have all felt at one point or another on our journey. His gift with prose has brought to life our deepest feelings and resonated with our hearts and minds. We hope you enjoy this as much as we have! Thank you M!

——-

For those AE survivors, let gratitude carry us. For the caretakers, bless you. For those still struggling, please keep fighting the good fight. We are all here for you.

When I first awoke in the hospital, I felt like a 90-year-old man. A weak, tired old man with no autonomy. A man that could barely move or speak. A man at the end of his life.

Coming in and out of consciousness, I had a lot to think about. (Because I had nothing else to do.)

I realized that people generally saw their lives in stages: a beginning, middle and end. With a middle age that seemed to go on forever. That’s because we have no idea when the end is near. It’s hard to gauge and probably doesn’t even exist in most people’s minds. We simply can’t fathom it. It’s so unknown and far away. But as sure as the sky is blue it eventually reaches us all.

We’re all so different yet all the same. We go from rambunctious, fearless little kids with endless curiosities, to busy, hard-working adults, generating income so that hopefully one day we can retire, where the hours stretch on for days (just like it did when we were little kids).

In retirement, we are sold that we can do anything we want. From reading books to painting, to just chilling on the beach, or seeing the world by cruise ship, or just slow swinging on a porch with an old cat in our lap. I dunno, it’s different for everyone. What I do know is that I had obviously miscalculated a long middle for a short end. Crazy how that happens.

Laying there, motionless, with the chirps and beeps of hospital equipment, the days and nights blurred together. I didn’t know what day it was. But it didn’t matter as time had no relevance. I realized I has spent so much of my life working hard and saving up for a future that would never come. I felt stupid. Decades of grinding, all for what.

I tried to stay positive. To look on the bright side of things. To reflect. I had my fair share of adventures and vacations. My fair share of accomplishments, of friendships. I once took a 3-month solo motorcycle trip across the USA (remember that?). Damn, that was cool.

I got to see the world and was even beginning a new family with my wonderful spouse. I regretted not being able to raise my daughter until she was at least 20. Let me live another 20 years, I said, so I can instill in her self-reliance, self-discipline, curiosity, and grit. To let her know that anything is possible. But I knew that all would eventually be ok. My wife is a warrior with a great big supportive family. And I mean, there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I had a lot of feelings but above all I was calm and grateful. I was grateful I got to experience most of what life had to offer. The exciting parts. The sad parts. The whole gamut of human experience from birth to baby—which is more than anyone is guaranteed. Being in that dark, desolate place in my mind. That place where I had no external voice, I still had gratitude. But it was a resigned gratitude. One with plenty of I-couldas, I-wouldas, and I shouldas.

Coming back into consciousness, hearing the same high-pitched, rhythmic beeping from the heart-monitoring machine, I knew I had been there for a very long time. I felt like I wasn’t getting any better. Every day was just like the last. Groundhog Day.  I felt like, maybe, I would be in the hospital forever in that state. Even if I hadn’t died I felt like a ghost. To be seen but not to see. To be touched but not to touch. A fly on the wall of a busy hospital with ears instead of eyes. A vegetable frozen in time, with tubes and wires coming out of everywhere.

Then just like that, like some kind of reverse “Benjamin Button” disease, I was blasted back into reality, back to my 40-year-old body. I had aches and pains all over, shed a lot of tears, but, damn, it felt good to sit up on my own, to just breathe again. It had been 23 days, with 16 of them in the ICU. I would spend the next 11 days relearning everything. How to walk. How old my daughter was. How to use my phone. But I was back.

Today (April 12, 2023) marks the 100th day of leaving the hospital. Though I’ve been back probably half a dozen times since, they have all been for check-ups, bone density scans, MRI’s, physical therapy, and all ending with my favorite part—going home.

I am not sure what the point of this post is. I guess it’s for you to envision yourself where I was. A dead man with no future, with the woulda, coulda, shouldas. To put yourself there and see if you would change anything when you were granted your wish. To realize that most everything that stresses you out right now probably doesn’t even matter.

You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege. Don’t waste it with your head down.

M Ledferd and daughter n 1 375x500 - You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilegeOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on Fire

AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on Fire


February 8, 2023 | By Jeri Gore, IAES Blog Division Head

As we head into February 2023 and Autoimmune Encephalitis Awareness month 2023, we, the staff at the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), are super excited about how far awareness has come for Autoimmune Encephalitis. There is ever increasing treatment options for AE, ongoing research and clinical trials, increased membership (which speaks to awareness), ongoing recognition, and increased knowledge of more and more types of AE. The staff at IAES are busy as bees with all that is happening in the world of AE and supporting those diagnosed, their families, friends, and medical staff! We are excited and our brains are on fire with what AE Awareness month will bring and offer this year and the positive direction we are headed!

The IAES sponsors AE Awareness month and we have watched in wonder as it has blossomed and grown over the years into a month full of incredible speakers, information, support, and recognition!

The theme for AE Awareness month 2023 is ‘Brain on Fire’. In 2012 Susannah Cahalan released a book based on her AE journey with this name. A film based on this, her memoir, was soon to follow in 2016. Ms. Cahalan has been gracious enough to allow us to use this title for AE Awareness month this year. We are grateful and feel it is a very apt description. AE Awareness on all levels is moving in a positive direction as if on fire. This is terrific news for all AE Warriors, caregivers, medical and support staff, and all of those who will be diagnosed with this disease in the months and years to come.

As we all know, AE can be a difficult and devastating diagnosis. We all have stories to tell about our diagnostic journeys and recoveries. For most, we are fond of saying the recovery to our new normal is in no way a sprint and linear road but rather an arduous bumpy marathon. Like all journeys, there are ups, downs, and everything in between to talk about. At IAES we hear about and help to support folks at every level of their AE disease journey. We hear the good, bad, and ugly. And we hear funny, positive, and uplifting stories as well.

This year, to highlight the positive direction AE awareness is going we would like to talk about the uplifting, funny, incredible, and interesting gifts AE has given (or caused) and some of the very funny things we all have done on our paths towards recovery. Although AE is a devastating diagnosis, there is a gentle and humorous side that is sometimes left unspoken.

For me, personally, the gifts AE has given me may not be as concrete as for others. I have slowed down and appreciate ‘the small’ much more than I used to in my busy forward-looking life. I was always in a rush. I have said many times before that I always and I mean always tried to do way too much and quite possibly did not take the time to do things as well and with as much purpose as I do now. I appreciate those around me much more and I love. I love each day I am given. I love those around me. During my recovery, there were some strange and very funny things that happened. Chalk it up to a healing brain but during the thickest part of treatment and when medication levels were at their peak, sometimes my brain worked in very interesting, strange, and funny ways. One night I woke up, sat up in bed, and said hello and goodbye to my husband in Polish. I have not heard any Polish spoken since long before my grandmother passed in 1969 and I could not even begin to speak it in any way now. Another night I woke up and could recite every address we had ever lived at as well as all my relative’s addresses’ dating back 50 years plus. I cannot do that now. It was crazy and very funny!

There are AE Warriors whose diagnosis has awakened a super creative part of their brain. There is an IAES member who has become an incredible portrait artist. This member had no formal training and prior to the diagnosis had not drawn a thing in their life and now could make a nice tidy living drawing portraits for folks. Another member can now write beautiful and publishable poetry. There is another member whose photographic skills were unknown before AE and now are worthy of magazine covers.  This list goes on and on!

All AE warriors, our families, and caregivers could probably write a book on some of the funny things we have done during our recovery journeys. Some may view some of these instances as sad or negative, but you must see the humorous along this marathon of a recovery road for it is in how we handle the difficulties that we are defined. And, simply, sometimes, you just have got to laugh!

One member recalls her son with AE in an acute rehab unit wishing to have French dressing topped with a healthy dash of iced tea on his salads because it tasted amazing. Another recalls stopping at toll booths and being amazed at how kind-hearted folks were giving the tooth booth attendant money just because! Another member recalls telling her family that a school bus driver was coming to take her home and she had never even ridden in a school bus. Most of us while in recovery have short- or long-term memory issues.  The brain is amazing but a slow organ to heal. We get very creative in our word choices, and they are sometimes hilarious!! For us, an iron could be called a ‘shirt flattener’. We may call a doorway a ‘get through’. A ‘get louder’ is a remote control. We sometimes put sticky notes up in various colors to help remind us of this, that, and the other thing and cannot remember the color coding of the sticky notes. A clothes dryer could be called a clothes oven. Our brains, with AE, are on fire and as you can see, very creative at times!

As AE Awareness month 2023 progresses, we hope you find wonderful information from the speakers presenting the newest in AE research and treatment. We hope you find support and inspiration whether you be an AE warrior, a caregiver, a loved one, a friend, or anyone wishing to further their knowledge in this exploding field of research and medicine. We hope you see the positive and humorous for although AE is a difficult diagnosis, there is hope and a future for those of us whose brains are on fire!

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subscribe - AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on Fire

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on FireOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on Fire

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on Fire

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - AE Awareness Month 2023: Brain on Fire 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

A Mother’s Wish for a Mighty Miracle’s 7th Birthday

A Mother’s Wish for a Mighty Miracle’s 7th Birthday


November 24, 2022 | By Janine Samuela-Carasus

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

As we wrap up caregiver awareness month and in the spirit of this season’s giving of thanks, the staff at IAES wish to share with you this beautiful story of hope and the true power of those that care for us the most. Each AE Warrior is here today because of those that care for and love us. We are thankful beyond words. We hope you find this story as inspirational as we have, and we truly hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

To read more of Zoe’s story and her family please enjoy the first blog in this AE journey: https://autoimmune-encephalitis.org/never-give-up-miracles-happen-every-day/

 

—–

My name Janine Samuela-Carasus. I am 29 years old and from the Philippines.

Five years ago, in the middle of August 2017, our toddler that was almost two years old was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor Encephalitis.

We were stuck in a pediatric ICU unit for three weeks with Zoe and then, literally, lived in the hospital for the longest two months of our lives. As you can imagine, hundreds of tests and procedures were done every single day to try and figure out what was happening to our precious little girl. Our hearts were broken by every single negative result. No one knew what was happening to our girl. She seemed to be getting sicker and sicker each day.

Bills began piling up. All we understood was that her condition continued to worsen each day until she was not responding anymore. But with all this negativity, there was never a moment, a day, or a week that I thought of giving in and giving up. Never did a second go by that we lost hope that things would get better.  With constant prayer, the help of the Lord, and the vigilance of our brilliant doctors, we kept hope alive.

Eventually, we were able to bring Zoe home although she was in a non-responsive vegetative state. We had no idea or any medical assurance that she would recover and regain her strength again and be the precious girl we knew and loved.

For me, it was a mix of emotions. I was happy we were finally home and terrified of what the future would bring all at the same time. I worried if I would be strong enough for Zoe and if I would be able to help her. I did know one thing for certain, even if it took her forever to recover, I would be there. I knew even if it meant sacrificing my own life and personal dreams, I would be there. And I did. Never did I leave her side, nor did I sleep away from her even for a night. I, religiously, made her blended food and fed her via a feeding tube for months. I took her to doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, and every appointment that was necessary. I made sure Zoe was and felt loved every minute of every day and spoke to her all the time as if nothing was wrong.

All our prayers were answered. Zoe’s recovery was a long slow two-year road that we all traveled together. We watched her slowly improve, we cried with her when the therapy was hard until she got to the point to be able to face the world again! 

To date, our daughter is back to being her best self. Her gross motor and cognitive skills are significantly improved. She has been able to overcome her stranger anxiety and started attending formal school. We are very excited for her to spread her wings and begin to fly. She will be bringing with her the scars of a well-fought past showing how strong and resilient she is. Our family will be right by her side!

Our fight and Zoe’s fight do not end here. AE could happen anytime in her life again. It can happen to anyone. I will always be proud of our story of faith, strength, and love. We plan to always fight for AE awareness so everyone can get diagnosed quicker and not have to go thru all the pain we had as a result of this terrible disease.

Zoe turns seven years old this month. I want Zoe to read and understand our story, her story. Zoe may not be able to remember all aspects of her AE journey but thru this story, I hope she understands, in her heart, that we, as a family, are one. And we will conquer everything that comes our way!!  

 

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Tabitha Orth 300x218 - A Mother’s Wish for a Mighty Miracle’s 7th BirthdayOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - A Mother’s Wish for a Mighty Miracle’s 7th Birthday

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - A Mother’s Wish for a Mighty Miracle’s 7th Birthday

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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Caregiver Honorable Mention

Caregiver Honorable Mention


November 8, 2022 | By Mari Davis

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

.For all Autoimmune Encephalitis warriors, it is our caregivers, friends, and loved ones we rely on every single day in our AE journey. We rely on these amazing people for everything from giving words of encouragement, to a ride to doctor’s appointments, to help us relearn how to walk and talk, and simply be there by our side. We are honored and proud to add another one of these amazing sentinels to our list of Honorable Caregivers.

 —–

I, Mari Davis, would love to nominate my husband, Geoff Davis.

Geoff has been my rock throughout the ups, downs and all the shenanigans called Autoimmune Encephalitis. I was at work when suddenly I had seizures. No warning, no nothing. I was admitted to the intensive care unit and was intubated. Geoff was there. He had no idea what was happening, but he never wavered and was there.  He had to call our college-age children and my parents to let them know that I was sick. I was sick, and he had to tell them he had no idea what was happening. He was at my side each night during my admission. He has been my cheerleader and a driving force in my efforts to become as functional as possible. In the last 5 years he has cried with me, laughed with me, and danced with me.

When it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to return to a job I loved he cried with me. He has laughed with me while I’ve creatively tried to find elusive words. He has danced with me each morning before day rehab just to bring a smile to my face. Even when I know he was nervous about how I would do, he never let me know and he was there.

When I drove to Houston with our daughter and flew back on my own, I know he was scared, but he never let me know. Geoff simply offered support and was there. I know with Geoff, I can ask any question, no matter how crazy and he will answer it truthfully, even if the truth is difficult. He will be there. He has the patience of a saint. At times I have needed as much saintliness as possible. He had no idea how I would do long-term. He had no idea if the person I was before would be that person going forward. He was just glad I was here. And he was there.

I would also like to nominate his mother Rubye Neely for raising such a great man. Thank you, Rubye, for raising Geoff to be the person he is and the person that I know will always be there.

 

MariDavis - Caregiver Honorable Mention

 

Mari Davis, RN, ACM

Support Services Coordinator

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tabitha Orth 300x218 - Caregiver Honorable MentionOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - Caregiver Honorable Mention

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Caregiver Honorable Mention

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A Poem

Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A Poem


September 27, 2022 | By Angie Fitch

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

The staff at IAES is proud to share with you a poem written by an amazing AE warrior that has been battling AE since the Fall of 2020. Each one of us feel the emotions, the ups and downs and roller coaster like ride AE takes us on. Thank you, Angie, for so eloquently putting pen to paper the feelings we all share!

Angie Fitch 4 n 281x500 - Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A Poem

——-

Good, bad, up, down, round and round.

I feel as though I’m on a merry-go-round.

Full of uncertainty if it will ever stop spinning; Full of frustration as I remain on my couch sitting.

I just want to live.

I just want to die.

I just want to do more than just survive.

I just want this nightmare to finally subside.

Convincing others and myself to remain positive and hopeful, when deep down inside I feel the opposite and woeful.

Confused, angry and sad is what I feel; But never reveal; All I can do is hope that I heal.

Why me, why now, why at all? The pity party sets in as I continue to fight and pray that I don’t give in.

The fatigue, the limitations, the pain and loss of ambition; The debilitating life that I have been given.

I will live; I will thrive; I will ultimately win and survive; This is what I tell myself; This is what I tell others as my pain remains undercover.

My strength then comes back; It’s going to be alright; it’s going to be okay; I will continue the fight day to day; I will keep the hope and learn to cope; I will continue my way up this slippery slope with hopes of support and love of some sort. 

Angie Fitch 3 n 281x500 - Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A Poem

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A PoemOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A Poem

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Continuing My Way Up The Slippery Slope: A Poem

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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My Journey to Raising Awareness for Anti-NMDAr Autoimmune Encephalitis

My Journey to Raising Awareness for Anti-NMDAr Autoimmune Encephalitis

June 23, 2022 | By Reyna Felix

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

It is with great pleasure that IAES presents the story of one of our mighty Warriors. Reyna Felix, in her own words, explains the events that finally lead to her diagnosis during the beginning of a worldwide pandemic that left her alone without family and friends by her side at the very beginning of her AE journey. Her story was picked up by a few TV news channels and lead to an article written about her struggles in the Barrow Neurological Foundation newsletter. The link to this article is below. The Barrow Neurological Foundation strives to advance neurological research, patient care and provide education to help save lives. 

Reyna Felix 11 - My Journey to Raising Awareness for Anti-NMDAr Autoimmune EncephalitisMy name is Reyna and I am 29 years old. I have been married for 5 years (together for 11), I have worked as a 911 dispatcher for the past 7 years, and I am a dog mom to a fun rescue pup. I love to read, hike, exercise, travel, cook, and learn new things.

I am also a survivor of anti-NMDA receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis. Like most patients, my diagnosis was not easily found. The search for what was wrong with me included weeks of struggle for myself and my family. As you’ll read about in the article, I was dismissed from hospitals or left against medical advice. I spent time in a psychiatric facility, and eventually was correctly diagnosed and began the treatment process which led into the recovery process I am now in. I am missing many months of life from my memory, which is a common symptom of this disease. I received my diagnosis in April 2020 which was at the same time as a pandemic began around the world. This compounded the struggles experienced by my husband and family. Hospitals had restrictions on people accompanying patients in emergency rooms, ICUs, rehabilitation facilities, etc. and I was in no condition to be responsible for myself during the worst of my symptoms. There was about a 40-day period where my husband couldn’t be with me in person which increased the emotional stress of my condition for him. A teratoma was located and removed, I received a few IVIG treatments, and then I received two weeks’ worth of everyday Plasmapheresis which significantly improved my condition. It was during this time that I began to “wake up.” I spent two weeks becoming more alert, learning how to eat on my own, write, speak, walk, etc. during inpatient neurological rehab. I was discharged to return home with restrictions such as 24/7 supervision and outpatient therapies such as speech, physical, and occupational therapy that continued for 3 months. In June 2020, I started rituximab treatments that I continue to receive twice a year.

Reyna Felix 12 - My Journey to Raising Awareness for Anti-NMDAr Autoimmune Encephalitis

I continue to work on my mental and physical health, and I receive testing to ensure I am doing well by my doctors such as neuropsychological tests and cancer screenings. In September 2020, a local news channel picked up my story and did a short interview about Autoimmune Encephalitis which led to another news channel completing a story on me for my first World Encephalitis Day in February 2021. My neurologist shared with me that these two stories were shared amongst other doctors and hospitals and contributed to more awareness and for clinical studies needing to take place. More studies and awareness for this condition means that, someday, people will be diagnosed and treated properly which will lead to better outcomes for more people. I am not someone who enjoys attention.  I used to keep my life private but all I hope for from opening up about my experience is to help others get proper treatment, raise awareness for medical professionals and other people to understand more about the disease, and to show other patients and families that successful recovery is possible.

Autoimmune Encephalitis came into my life swiftly and had the potential to destroy it, but it has not won. My life looks differently now but I am alive. I have bad days and good days, but life is full of ups and downs that we can move forward through. While a lot of our symptoms and experiences can be similar, I think it’s important to remember that we are each individual so it’s also good to remind yourself to not compare your own personal progress and recovery to other patients.

To all my fellow warriors, we’ve got this. You are loved, you are strong, and you deserve to be happy and alive. To all our caregivers, families, friends, medical professionals, etc., thank you for what you do to help us each day. Additionally, I hold those who have passed from Autoimmune Encephalitis and their families close in my heart.

Reyna Felix 8 - My Journey to Raising Awareness for Anti-NMDAr Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - My Journey to Raising Awareness for Anti-NMDAr Autoimmune Encephalitis

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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A Happy Ending for Surprise Diagnosis for One Doctor by Another Doctor from a Land Far Far Away

A Happy Ending for Surprise Diagnosis for One Doctor by Another Doctor from a Land Far Far Away

June 23, 2022 | By Mozna Osman

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

IAES is proud to present to you the AE story of a doctor that truly exemplifies our international impact! We hope you find this as inspirational as we have.

—–

I am a family medical doctor living and practicing medicine in Khartoum, Sudan. My story began about three years ago when I realized I was often feeling very tired and had terrible headaches. I decided to go and get my own blood work analyzed to see if there were any obvious issues going on. What I found out was that I had Malaria and a UTI (urinary tract infection). As a doctor, I decided to go ahead and treat myself with the appropriate medications needed for both issues.

I thought I was doing well and, on the mend, but I was not. Not long after this, my son found me, unresponsive, on the floor. I was admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU) of a local hospital and was in a coma for a month. As luck would have it, a visiting doctor from Chicago was asked to review my case. After reviewing my medical chart, he diagnosed me with anti-NMDA Autoimmune Encephalitis. He suggested a course of treatment that included medication and plasmapheresis. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have had my case reviewed by a doctor from so far away.

I am now feeling much but better but I still suffer from memory issues like many patients with AE. My short memory seems more affected by AE than my long-term memory but is getting much better. I am happy to report I am back to practicing medicine and am working at AL-Shaheed Wedatallah Medical Center in Khartoum. I am hoping for a bright, happy, and healthy future.

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - A Happy Ending for Surprise Diagnosis for One Doctor by Another Doctor from a Land Far Far Away

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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Jackie Stebbins’ Book Release – Unwillable

Jackie Stebbins’ Book Release – Unwillable

June 8, 2022 | By Jackie Stebbins

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

Autoimmune Encephalitis Warrior and now author, Jackie Stebbins, released her first book regarding her AE journey to great acclaim in early June 2022! We are proud to support Jackie, to further AE awareness and to celebrate a very happy ending! Jackie’s book can be purchased on Amazon here.

—–

In some ways, I still cannot believe it’s true. I published a book! Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire, says Unwillable is “as moving as it is important.”

As I write this, it’s June 5, 2022. That means exactly four years ago, I took my place in a wing of a clinic in Bismarck, North Dakota, full of overstuffed, brown chairs and IV poles behind them. I was there for my first IV steroid treatment, to hopefully turn my brain back on from autoimmune encephalitis (AE).

As I sat in the recliner, broken from a violent seizure, lost from the past few months of hell, and still in a cognitive fog, my family prayed that the steroids pumped through my body could save my ailing brain. And in a grand stroke of luck, the steroids did almost immediately save me. My life was quickly turned around again, but so much had already been lost. Damage was done.

282611734 819445159443008 7686218785706316893 n - Jackie Stebbins' Book Release - UnwillableMy husband took a photo of me that day. My eyes look tired, afraid, and lost. Four years later, I see that same tired, scared woman, but I want to hug her and tell her: It’s okay. This story has a happy ending.

The capstone of the AE journey I’ve been on is the publication of my memoir, Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain. On June 1, 2022, Unwillable was officially launched and is available for purchase on Amazon.For me, this is one of the happiest outcomes I could have ever imagined after the past years of grief, loss, imbalance, heartache, tears, and life’s drastic changes. Unwillable was a way for me to process my trauma, share my feelings, and hopefully, help spread awareness about the illness that almost ended my life.

AE is a disease that devastates and destroys those in its path. Until we have standardized treatment, a cure, and no one else ever again suffers from this monster, the best we have is hope. Hope for better days ahead and dreams of an AE-free world. 

Wherever you and your family are in your journey with AE, it is my sincere hope that Unwillable finds a way to your heart and helps you in your struggles. 

In solidarity, 

Jackie M. Stebbins, Esq.

jmstebbins.com

unwillable.com

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Jackie Stebbins' Book Release - Unwillable

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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Psychosis or Something More? A Family’s Search for Answers

Psychosis or Something More? A Family’s Search for Answers

May 26, 2022 | By Libya Matney

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is proud to present to you the AE story of one of our mighty Warriors in her own words, an article written about her AE path in the University of Arkansas newspaper (link below) and beautiful artwork given to her by a wonderful friend and artist depicting her within the struggle of this devastating diagnosis!

 

As a 21-year-old stay at home mom to a precious little boy, Benjamin, I never thought that something so life-altering would happen to me. My husband and I had spent 9 months trying to conceive our second child. Finally, in June of 2021, we were able to get pregnant. Around the same time, many random things started happening to my body. Nobody understood what was happening. My scalp was burning, I had chronic migraines, confusion, insomnia, OCD tendencies, and I started showing aggression towards my family. All these things seemed to begin to rule my life. I began cleaning my house aggressively and trying to get rid of everything that I own. I would tear things out of the closets and try to reorganize them at the same time. I was exhausted. I was forgetting everything. I began to believe that I couldn’t be left alone to take care of my son. My family and friends began taking turns staying with me during the day. At this point I had been to the doctor several times and had multiple blood tests and two CT scans. Everything came back normal.

On August 19th, 2021, my husband and mother-in-law decided to take me to a hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas (AR) to see if they could figure out what was happening to me. They performed the same blood tests and scans that I had received previously and, of course, they came back normal. On the way home from the hospital that day, I had what the doctors would call a “psychotic break”. I began kicking and hitting my husband in the car and trying to open the door to get out. My husband and mother-in-law frantically called my mom. She said that she could hear my husband in the background begging me to stop. My mom told them that she was on her way to us and to call 911. When the police and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived, my mom had my doctor on the phone to convince them that something was medically wrong with me and that I needed to be taken to the emergency room (ER). When EMS tried to get me to the gurney I dropped to the ground. They had to lift me onto the gurney and into the ambulance. This was when I was transported to the ER in my hometown, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center (NARMC). The last thing I remember from that fateful day was stopping in a restaurant parking lot and trying to get out of the car. I don’t remember the police or paramedics being there. I don’t remember anything from the rest of that day or the month that followed.

My family has told me that while I was in the ER, I kept trying to leave. I would fight the medical staff and my family so hard that they had to restrain my arms and legs to keep me from getting out of bed or hurting myself. During the 4 days that I was in the ER at NARMC, I had a CT scan, an MRI, a spinal tap, and multiple blood tests done. I ended up miscarrying my child the last day that I was there. I was transferred to St. Bernard’s Medical Center in Jonesboro, AR on August 23rd, 2021. During the transfer, I slipped into an unresponsive/catatonic state. A procedure was performed to remove the tissue from the fetus, as well as the same testing that had previously been done in the ER. Other testing that was done consisted of EEGs and ultrasounds. Six days after being transferred I was placed on a ventilator because of having back-to-back seizures and my heart stopping. After two weeks of having no nourishment besides IV fluids, a feeding tube was also placed in my nose. I was in St. Bernard’s for a month before they sent my blood and spinal fluid to Mayo Clinic. An infectious disease doctor diagnosed me with anti-NMDA Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis and GFAP. A few days before I left St. Bernard’s, I woke up with a feeding tube still in my nose. I did not know the month, day, or what was happening. I couldn’t walk or use the right upper side of my body. Also, due to having been on the ventilator and having the feeding tube, I could not talk. I was given a letterboard to communicate and the first thing that I asked about was my pregnancy. I couldn’t remember miscarrying the baby. On September 22nd, I was transferred to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. Doctors began plasmapheresis (plasma exchange).  During the 10 days that I was there I received 5 rounds of it. I had another MRI, EEG, spinal tap, and two ultrasounds during my stay there.  Blood and spinal fluid samples were sent to Mayo Clinic to be rechecked. On October 1st, I was moved to Everest Rehabilitation Center in Rogers, AR, where I spent every day in physical, occupational, and speech therapy. I had to relearn how to walk, and I had to regain my physical strength and my voice. My last week at the rehab center, I finally got to see my son, Benjamin, after not seeing him for over a month. They included him in my physical and occupational therapy. On October 19th, two months after being taken to the first hospital, I was released to finally go home. When I got home, I started outpatient physical therapy at Mount Carmel Physical Therapy Center in Harrison, AR. I had physical therapy twice a week for 8 weeks. In January of 2022, I had two rounds of Rituxan infusions.

I am now back home with husband and son, and I can enjoy spending time with my family and friends once again. My life will never be the same after my AE diagnosis. I will always have to keep tabs on my stress levels and watch for signs of relapse. I still have months before I can drive again and am still at risk for seizures. However, I have learned a lot the past year. I’ve been cared for by people that will forever hold a place in my heart. I’ve grown, I’ve changed, and I am thankful for the life and family that God has blessed me with. 

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

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For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

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The Darkness of a Brain on Fire

The Darkness of a Brain on Fire

April 27, 2022 | By Chelsea Wagner

 

CW 3516 375x500 - The Darkness of a Brain on FireNumbers, numbers, numbers – we all have them. It’s how we organize and make sense of what’s happened to us. It is how we put our experiences into boxes so that they don’t spill over into every aspect of our lives.

For me it was 1,000 mg of steroids, 7 Plasmapheresis infusions, 6 EEG’s, 5 MRIs, 4 CT scans, 1 PET scan, 1 botched lumbar puncture, 1 traumatizing bedside central line insertion, and countless fascinated residents, fellows, and physicians who had no idea what was happening to me right in front of them. All those numbers were packed into a 31-day hospital stay split between 2 hospitals in the largest medical center in the world. And those numbers lead me here, to you, to the Autoimmune Encephalitis community.

During February 2019, I began to experience subtle signs and had an overwhelming feeling that something was “off” with myself. I had trouble spelling words, remembering passwords and even had trouble speaking with patients I saw as a genetic counselor. I began experiencing extreme anxiety, panic attacks, and other neurological symptoms. I would eventually go to the ER after my doctor discovered a right sided facial droop, fearing that I was having a stroke, I was admitted to the first of 2 hospitals.

During my lengthy stay on the stroke recovery unit (the youngest person by several decades), the doctors would be puzzled by my progressing symptoms and my eventual catatonic state. I lost the ability to speak, read, and write. After being placed on high-dose steroids, I became violent and turned into what the nurses and my family would call the “she-hulk” and throw objects, kick walls, and wrestle with hospital staff as they put restraints on my ankles and wrists and bound me to my hospital bed for days at a time. During this time, I would become a prisoner of my own mind. I endured auditory and visual hallucinations of my worst nightmares and lived in multiple alternate realities, many of which included me dying. I would return to reality for only brief periods of lucid time – although I could not speak or recognize my family, the terror and confusion were respite to what was happening inside of my mind. 

Eventually, the first facility would diagnose me with seronegative autoimmune encephalitis – but did not implement the well established treatment for AE – and I was sent home from the first hospital on a steroid taper with no attempt at plasmapheresis exchange or IVIG. The doctors were frustrated with me and with what little I was able to comprehend. They had given up on me regaining any semblance of normal cognitive function. They told my husband and family that I’d go home and I’d either “get better, or I wouldn’t.”

I didn’t. In fact, I was actively hallucinating as they discharged me from my first hospital and then spent an interim week drifting in and out of reality – barely able to communicate, having dystonic movements and absence seizures. I was clearly getting worse. I was fortunate enough to have personal connections to another hospital due to my job as a genetic counselor in the medical center. I was rushed in for a same day appointment with a leading neurologist in Autoimmune Encephalitis and admitted directly from her clinic to my second hospital.

After receiving the first of seven plasmapheresis exchange treatments, it was like a fog was lifted. Blobs of strange people began to take the shape of my husband, my mom, my friends and family. I found my voice, although Broca’s aphasia made it hard to communicate, I started making progress in speech and occupational therapy. Everyday it felt like fireworks were going off in my brain – the zing of new neural connections being made – I would tell my therapists “I can feel it in my brain” – every sense heightened, every new word remembered became a cause for celebration, every step around the ward was a sign of my physical strength returning. Who would have guessed the exhilaration of holding a crayon in my hand could bring, or the relief of hearing my name and knowing it was mine? The doctors were impressed and optimistic about my recovery, but no one could predict how much cognitive function I would regain.  I was told I would likely never be the same person I was before. And in so many ways that is true.

CW 7606 375x500 - The Darkness of a Brain on FireEven after my second discharge, I had months of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive rehabilitation. I lost most of my independence – depending on everyone around me to drive me everywhere, make follow-up appointments, pay my bills because reading words on a screen was akin to reading hieroglyphics. I felt, at my worst, like a burden to those around me, weighed down by guilt and shame of the upheaval I had caused in our lives. I felt lost in my professional life, unsure of who I was or what I contributed to a society where my 19 years of education did not triumph over my brain trauma. I felt alone, because no one had been inside my mind and could understand exactly what I had been through: how harrowing, how terrifying, how humbling, it is to stand on the brink of insanity and be brought back from the darkness of a brain on fire.

No one except this community – reading your experiences, your struggles, your triumphs – they connect me in a way I never thought I would be able to connect and helped me understand my singular experience is part of a larger community experience. Almost three years later, I have returned to my full-time job as a genetic counselor and help patients navigate an overly-complicated and often frustrating healthcare system that I am all too familiar with. My compassion and empathy for those struggling with a diagnosis, finding resources, and advocating for themselves abounds. And I am grateful to be here, to be able to return to my career, to recognize my husband’s face, to be alive, to be typing these words. I know that when I lay awake at night (because, hello, insomnia!) thinking of how everything has changed for me since AE – there is light, there is hope, there is resilience, there is grit, there is strength in me. All it takes is a brain on fire to illuminate it.

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - The Darkness of a Brain on Fire

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - The Darkness of a Brain on Fire 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

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Our website is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. Nothing contained on our website is intended to be used as medical advice. No content is intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. Although THE INTERNATIONAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS SOCIETY  provides a great deal of information about AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS, all content is provided for informational purposes only. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society  cannot provide medical advice.


International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2016 by Tabitha Andrews Orth, Gene Desotell and Anji Hogan-Fesler. Tax ID# 81-3752344. Donations raised directly supports research, patients, families and caregivers impacted by autoimmune encephalitis and to educating healthcare communities around the world. Financial statement will be made available upon request.

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