Tatiana, 18 years old, San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo, CA

At only 7 years old my life changed forever. During a family get together in August of 2008 my father found me unresponsive, I was just looking to the side, staring into space. I was taken to the hospital where my family was told it was a seizure. I was kept at Cottage Children’s Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA, and then airlifted to Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA because I was getting worse and no one had any answers.

There I continued to have seizures, and I behaved like a “crazy person”. I would pull my own hair out, and I would even hit my own mother because I didn’t know who she was. While in the hospital I was diagnosed with many things. One diagnoses being Herpes Encephalitis, another being meningitis, and more that I have yet to learn. In the end I was diagnosed with Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis.

I say “I have yet to learn” because I was only 7 years old when I became ill. The people who know everything are my parents. For 6 months they stood by my side in the hospital and saw and heard everything that went on. I don’t remember anything during that time, or anything before I got sick. I know what my parents have told me so far, and I want to learn more. It’s a very hard topic for my parents to talk about because they thought they were losing their child, but my mother and I are working together on a book because my story is quite different than any other.

Doctor’s call me a medical miracle, because i’m told they didn’t know how to treat me. I recovered on my own, and didn’t have any physical therapy or rehabilitation appointments like others would. However, because I was out of school for about a year I was put behind a year.
When I was released from the hospital I was taken home in a diaper, in a wheelchair, had a feeding tube attached to my stomach, and still not completely “there”. I learned how to walk all on my own again, learned how to speak again (both english and spanish), learned how to eat, how to read and write, and use the restroom by myself all over again; and I did all this in an amazingly short amount of time.

Today, I am 18 years old. As of now, I am happy and healthy. I am a freshman in college studying medicine with the hopes of helping children like me in the future. I have many unanswered questions about that year. My goal is to go back to the hospitals and ask doctors every detail. I want to create more awareness about this illness, and plan to have my book finished and published by the time I reach my final year of my undergrad. I’m excited for what the future holds, and hope to show people the importance of misdiagnosis, and I am looking forward to learn more about Anti-NMDA Receptor encephalitis.