A host of medical hiccups can hit the human body. Microscopic bugs, injuries, and failing systems are the classics. More intriguing are the rare cases, some only appearing for the first or second time.
Say hello to semi-identical twins, children who cannot move after dark, and serious gender switching. The senses go haywire in unbelievable ways, but the brain, when injured or subjected to surgery, is responsible for some of the most unreal and often tragic conditions.
1. Uncombable Hair Syndrome
A rare condition gives people a wild hairdo. Called uncombable hair syndrome (UHS), it makes hair, well, difficult to comb. Only around 100 cases are known, and one of them is Taylor McGowan. When she was born around two years ago, she appeared fairly normal.
By the time she was five months old, Taylor grew the trademark silvery-blonde locks of UHS. Her parents noticed the super frizz, but a nurse told them that the hair would soon fall out. Taylor’s grandmother was the first to realize what was going on when she found photos of other UHS babies. The rarity of the condition made her parents dismiss the chance of Taylor having it.
However, genetic tests proved that the Chicago baby was indeed a member of this funky-looking group. From each surprised parent, she had inherited a copy of the PADI3 gene mutation. Normal hair shafts are smooth and round, but the mutation sprouts hair with grooves—and that’s why she looks like a baby Einstein.
2. The Religious Tumor
In 2016, researchers published an interesting case. It did not end well for the woman involved (she died eight months after diagnosis), but her tumor could explain sudden mystical experiences in some people.
The unnamed patient lived in Spain. The 60-year-old was described by family and friends as a happy person. Although she believed in God, she was not religious. Over two months, she experienced an abrupt change. Her mood was quiet, even sad, and increasingly, the woman turned to religious writings. She even had meetings with the Virgin Mary.
An MRI and biopsy diagnosed her with an aggressive form of brain cancer. During the next five weeks, her treatment included radiation, chemotherapy, and antipsychotic medication. Tellingly, the elderly patient’s conversations with the Virgin Mary ceased.
An overview of the case could find no other trigger for the hyper-religiosity except the tumor. How the cancer caused spiritual fervor remains unknown, but the woman’s right temporal lobe appeared to have played a role. Previous cases involving mystical experiences have been linked to this brain region.