Stacey Comerford, 15, from Telford, England, suffers from a rare neurological disorder which makes her sleep for months at a time. This time round it was her longest event, when she slept through two months, missing nine exams and also her birthday.
She is just one of 1,000 people worldwide to be suffering from ‘Kleine Levin Syndrome’ also known as ‘Sleeping Beauty Syndrome’.
Stacey's mother, Bernie Richards, 53 said, “There’s never any warning. I’ve even found her fast asleep on the kitchen floor.” When they consulted the doctors they were told that just like a typical teenager she lacked energy and hence kept falling asleep.
Stacey was undergoing this problem since last year but it got diagnosed only in March this year.
Ms Richards said: 'Having a diagnosis means Stacey knows it’s not all in her mind. She’s had that much stick off people. They don’t understand. I was even investigated by the local education authority because Stacey’s school thought I was deliberately keeping her out of school. They’ve stopped now we’ve got a diagnosis”, she said, reported Daily Mail.
It was not that easy for people in her school to understand her problem and they continued taunting and teasing over her erratic sleeping bouts. But after the diagnosis, she could face them comfortably.
According to ibnlive.in.com, Stacey said: "I've missed nine exams and my birthday. It's easier now people know what it is. It's easier to explain to them. Before, people didn't believe me. That was the hardest thing."
Stacey had drifted off to sleep in April thinking about her A’s for her GCSE’s but woke up to realize she could only manage an attendance percentage of 30 this school year due to her condition, reported the Shropshire Star.
Bernie has six children and said she always knew that there was something wrong with Stacey as she behaved in a weird way before falling asleep suddenly.
“When she’s in sleep mode she can be quite moody but she can’t help it. She’s like a toddler who wants to do things her own way. She stamps her foot if she doesn’t get what she wants. I always knew there was something wrong. I know my daughter,” she said, quoted The Sun.
There were random fears and doubts of Stacey having a brain tumor but all tests came back negative. She was also checked for narcolepsy and epilepsy but results were negative. Finally a neurologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital eventually diagnosed Stacey with Kleine Levin Syndrome.
Life isn’t easy for the young girl who thinks it’s the following day after waking up and is left with no memory of it. The sleeping episode also takes a toll on her health as she gets up only to eat little food, drink water and visit the toilet, but all in a trance-kind-of-state.
According to The Sun, her mother said, “She’s gone from a fresh faced teenager, full of energy to sleeping all the time. We can’t plan anything because Stacey might be asleep. She could go to sleep tonight and wake up next week.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Kleine-Levin Syndrome is a disease of adolescence and sometimes will begin after an infection or illness. It is characterized by periods of excessive amounts of sleep and altered behavior. Patients diagnosed with the disease may sometimes sleep for days, weeks, and even months at a time.
The sad part is that there is no known cure for the syndrome but some sufferers do grow out of it. In Stacey’s case, the family has learnt to deal with it.
“'We try and laugh and joke about it because it’s the only way to get through it”, said Ms. Richards.