Category: Weird Articles
Published on Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00
Since 2009, 32-year-old Shanyna Isom has been suffering from a mysterious skin condition that causes sharp spikes as hard as fingernails to grow out of the hair follicles all over her body. The mysterious illness is so rare that even after five years, doctors still can't figure out what is causing this bizarre biological phenomenon. The physicians treating her at the Johns Jopkins Medical Center in Baltimore believe that Shanyna is the only person in the world to suffer from this strange disease.
Shanyna was not born with this skin condition, it just sort of happened when she was in her 20s. It all started back in 2009 when Shanyna,, who was then studying law at the University of Memphis, suffered a severe asthma attack. She was sent into the emergency room and given a large dose of steroids. Soon after, she developed an allergic reaction to the steroids and her skin began to itch uncontrollably. Although she was prescribed Benadryl and other allergy drugs, her condition kept getting worse.
“It was uncontrollable and we didn’t know what it was. Black scabs were coming out of her skin,” Shanyna’s mother Kathy Gary explained. “The nails would grow so long and come out and regrow themselves. They are hard to touch and stick to you.” Soon, her legs started to turn black.
“It looked as if she has been in a house fire and gotten burned,” Kathy added. “We could not figure out what was going on. She was just breaking out everywhere. Her body was scabbed all over.” As the condition of her skin deteriorated, it began to affect her bones and vision as well. She couldn’t walk without the help of a cane, and she was losing 4 to 7 kilograms a week.
They conducted a series of tests on her, including a bone marrow biopsy, but the results all proved inconclusive. The doctor in Memphis that Shanyna was seeing at the time had completely given up hope of ever finding a cure. “He said she would be like that for the rest of her life,’ said Kathy. “But I couldn’t accept that.” So the family kept looking for treatments until they finally got accepted at Johns Hopkins in 2011.
The doctors there conducted more tests and finally discovered that Shanyna was producing 12 times the number of skin cells in each hair follicle. Instead of growing hair, the follicles were actually producing human nails. They suspected that it could be due to a vitamin deficiency or that her skin was not receiving enough oxygen.
They came up with a treatment plan that is actually helping her condition a little bit. Through intensive treatment, they have managed to remove the hard, spiny growths from the follicles on her head, and her legs are not as bad as before.
“Her legs aren’t covered in black scabs,” her mother said, back in 2012. “They are looking better, and her face just looks like she has a real bad sunburn.” She has had to travel to Baltimore at least once a month since then, in order to have her condition monitored.
While the treatment may be proving effective, it is quite expensive and Shanyna has raked up over $1 million in unpaid medical bills. The medicated pads that keep her alive cost $25,000 a month, and although she has state insurance, it does not cover medical care in Maryland where she lives. To make matters worse, her mother quit her job as a medical receptionist to care for Shanyna full time, and the family's savings have long run dry.
“It’s almost as if it’s a nightmare and you’re trying to wake up out of that,” Shanyna said. “We had to depend on the family and friends and different fundraisers and things like that to help me get back and forth.”
Shanyna has been in constant physical pain ever since she developed the disease and usually sleeps the day away to avoid feeling the pain. The skin condition is so severe that she risks dying if they stop the treatments as her skin lacks oxygen and is suffocating, resulting in a rapid rise in her body temperature.
Shanyna founded the S.A.I Foundation (named after her initials) to help people who suffer from very rare medical conditions. The foundation accepts donations through various Bank of America branches, and people have been donating heavily to the cost, including popular TV personality Anderson Cooper. Unfortunately, the money runs out faster than it is being donated from all the expensive treatments she has to go through.
Her friends and family continue to pray for her recovery someday. “We know that God is a healer and he’s going to bring her through,” Carrie Isom, Shanyna’s Grandmother said.
“At this point I just do everything I can to get the help that’s needed for her,” said Shanyna’s friend Tolungia Webb.
“I love her and I know that she’s gonna get better,” friend Karintha Rawls said.
“I don’t know whether to smile or cry,” said Shanyna, who is touched by people’s generosity. “I am very blessed.”
Share this article to develop awareness for Shanyna's tragic story. Every share helps to reach out to people to donate to her cause. Go to http://shayeisom.blogspot.sg/
to read more about her story and/or donate to save her life.
Check out the video below of Shanyna being interviewed.