Misdiagnosis Nearly Kills Woman
Wife, Mother Spent 2 Years In Mental Hospital
POSTED: 2:51 pm EST February 1, 2008
UPDATED: 6:45 pm EST February 1, 2008
FLORENCE, Ky. -- Mindy Scandy tried to tell them, but they didn’t understand.
Instead, doctors misdiagnosed her and placed her in a psychiatric ward, and it would take nearly two years before anyone discovered what was wrong with the wife and mother of three, who also nurtured a modeling career.
“I lost the ability to do all of that, especially the mom part,” said Scandy.
Two years ago, she caught a heavy box that fell from a shelf, and that instant changed her life forever.
“I had an injury to my neck and had a stroke from that,” she said.
After the stroke, Scandy developed lesions on her face and painful, open sores.
“I was ripping my skin off,” she said.
Scandy said she felt pain on the outside as her body deteriorated on the inside.
“I had a mailman ask me why I was ready for Halloween so early once so, yeah, it's been kind of rough,” she said.
Numerous doctors, including dermatologists, were unable to determine what caused pain so intense that Scandy tore the skin from her own face, and absent an answer doctors recommended that she be admitted to a psychiatric hospital as a self-mutilator.
“I didn't believe it, not for a minute,” Scandy said. “I fought it tooth and nail.”
She spent nearly two years in the facility until a medical student walked past her room and noticed something no doctor had picked up.
“Amazingly, a dermatology student at (University of Cincinnati) picked it up because she did a report on a rare disorder and saw the crescent-shaped lesion,” said Dr. Deborah Sillins, a specialist.
The student had written a paper on trigeminal trophic syndrome, of which there are only 100 known cases.
The stroke had caused Scandy’s brain to send mixed signals to a nerve, which caused her to unconsciously pick at the lesions.
“The pain was the worst part of it,” she said.
Sillins had never heard of the disorder when she met Scandy, but she was able to transplant part of the woman’s arm, arteries and other tissues to her mutilated cheek.
“She won't have any sensation on this skin so the nerve won't recognize it,” Sillins said.
Scandy’s new face has its own pulse and blood supply, which is intended to deaden the malfunctioning nerve that caused the problem.
“This is awesome, this is great,” Scandy said. “It's the best I've looked in two years.”
Doctors said the symptoms might still return, but Scandy said she was not concerned about that.
“I look forward to getting my family back to normal,” she said.
With a new face and improved self-confidence, Scandy is finally ready to return home do what she misses most: be a mother to her three children.
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