Not all fairy tales have a happy ending. Not all princesses get to experience happily-ever-afters, and this real-life Sleeping Beauty will prove that true.
Twenty-one-year-old Louisa Ball is dubbed as the real world’s Aurora or Sleeping Beauty because of a very rare condition that causes her to sleep for two weeks at a time. She’s glued to her bed for so long that she ends up missing her dance lessons and fails to take school exams. One time, her family went on a week-long vacation and they had to leave her out because she was still sound asleep.
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It all started in October 2008, when Louisa contracted a flu. It lasted for a week, Louisa’s mom, Lottie, shared. But she said that her daughter never fully recovered from it. What they did not know was that it was the beginning of a condition that would steal the teenage girl’s time.
Medical professionals call the disorder the Kleine-Levin syndrome, which also goes by the more common name the Sleeping Beauty disease.
Then Louisa’s parents started to notice something strange in their daughter. Her mother recalled that Louisa would randomly fall asleep at school or ramble like she’s talking in her sleep.
Around the same time, Louisa started sleeping for 10 days at a time. The only time they could get her off her bed is when she needs to eat her meals or take a quick shower.
Lottie shared, “It really scared us, we didn’t know what to do. It just didn’t seem like Louisa was the daughter we used to know; she was like a different person.”
“It was like she was sleep-walking and talking in the times we did manage to wake her up. After she had been asleep for a week or ten days, she wouldn’t remember anything about it,” Lottie’s husband, Richard, added.
The family asked help from a pediatric consultant, but they didn’t get any logical explanation of Louisa’s condition. But when they paid a visit to St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, it was when they were told about the Sleeping Beauty syndrome.
The disease is said to be more common among men than women, and when the patient reaches adulthood, there’s a big chance the disorder will disappear.
As to its cause, nothing is confirmed, but doctors suspect it might have something to do with the hypothalamus, the section of the brain responsible for a person’s sleep and appetite.
The Ball family were entirely unaware that such disease exists, but a pediatric consultant at St. George’s Hospital was quite familiar with the condition, having heard of other people who have it too.
However, like how its cause remains unknown, no cure has been discovered for Kleine-Levin syndrome yet. Some patients take stimulants just to keep them awake. Louisa did the same, but after she was diagnosed, her condition got worse. From sleeping for ten days at a time, she started sleeping for twelve days.
The family has somehow grown used to Louisa’s sleeping routine, and they have come to know when she’s about to doze off just by observing her mood.
Louisa often ends up sleeping basically everywhere. She once slept while they were on a plane that her parents had to wait till all passengers were gone so they could transfer her to their car.
Richard shared that Louisa displays a strange behavior once she wakes up. He said, “When she wakes up afterwards she goes straight to the biscuit cupboard and raids it. She is so hungry, its like she has been hibernating.”
The syndrome has affected Louisa way too much than she could handle. Her parents said that she has already missed a lot of coursework, resulting in her being too behind in her class work.
Worried about their daughter, Lottie and Richard are seeking all possible ways to help Louisa. They have been putting her onto a new medication, and they’re hoping that this time, it will work for the better and not make the health disorder worse.