Woman’s brain altered by old servo sushi
A mum battled incontinence, hallucinations and insomnia for months after her decision to eat five-day-old sushi from a service station.
Doctors treating the 34-year-old woman, identified only as JC, were baffled as to the cause of her problems - until they eventually discovered the problem - living in her stomach.
Until the discovery, she had undergone months of various treatments during which time she was rushed to hospital twice suffering seizures.
The woman's story was told by YouTuber Chubby Emu, who works as a clinical adjunct professor and doctor in Chicago for the University of Illinois.
ChubbyEmu uses his YouTube channel to discuss rare medical cases that he or his colleagues have cracked, with his wild and extraordinary videos often going viral.
The video about JC has had hundreds of thousands of views since it was uploaded last week.
In it, ChubbyEmu speaks about the night the woman arrived home late from work and realised she hadn't eaten all day.
Starving and with no restaurants open to order from, JC opened the fridge and spotted some sushi she'd bought five days ago from a service station.
"The fish did taste a little sour but she just put soy sauce on it to mask it out … the five-day-old sushi was so uneventful she didn't even remember eating it," ChubbyEmu said
But four months after she ate the sushi, her body started to shut down.
It began with insomnia; the sleepless nights leaving her anxious and confused and feeling like her heart was "beating out of her neck".
Around the same time, JC started having stomach cramps, feeling her stomach jiggle and shake before she went to the toilet.
JC told her husband it felt like a fish was "flapping around in her belly".
She tried essential oils, melatonin and special tea to help her sleep but nothing worked.
JC then started hallucinating - seeing bugs crawling on the walls, and eventually seeing them crawling under her skin.
One night, JC lost complete sensation in her hands and feet and when she got up from bed, she felt urine dripping down her leg.
She was taken to an urgent care clinic, exhausted.
Doctors couldn't find anything obviously wrong with her.
She was prescribed cognitive behaviour therapy, to help with what doctors thought was stress and to help her sleep.
The therapy did nothing and a short time later, JC's husband again saw her "mumbling to herself in the corner, shaking and her pants were wet," ChubbyEmu said.
She passed out and started having a seizure. Her husband quickly called an ambulance and she was taken to hospital.
Blood work revealed her red blood cells were abnormally large and immature. Her white blood cells were malformed and she was anaemic.
Another exam found she had sensory ataxia - a disorder that causes a person to lose their sensory awareness - and was suffering from neurodegeneration.
"When cells aren't maturing properly, it could be because of nutritional deficiency," ChubbyEmu said.
Her husband confirmed she had barely been eating one meal a day.
Further blood tests found JC was extremely low in vitamin B12, which had left her with severe nerve damage, causing her to lose sleep, have delusions, psychosis and hallucinations.
They gave JC some Vitamin B12 injections and miraculously, she started to recover, finally getting her first good night's sleep in months.
Doctors recommended she take B12 vitamins daily and discharged her from hospital.
Two months later, though, JC's symptoms started to come back.
After another psychotic episode and seizure, JC was rushed to emergency.
Doctors found her B12 levels were less than 10 per cent of where they should be, despite her massive intake of vitamins.
Finally, doctors began wondering why her body wasn't absorbing the B12, questioning if something was living in her gastrointestinal tract.
They examined JC's stool and found thousands of eggs measuring 40x60 micrometers long.
They also found broken off segments of a tapeworm.
Doctors asked JC if she'd recently eaten grains as they can sometimes be contaminated with rodents or insects, but she barely ate carbs.
Then she remembered the days-old sushi she ate nine months ago.
Finally, all her symptoms could be attributed to a potentially giant tapeworm that had been living in her GI tract for months.
Doctors identified the tapeworm as diphyllobothrium latum - one of the largest to infect humans. The species can grow up to 9m long.
The worm loves vitamin B12 and is known to "compete" with humans for the nutrient - which is exactly what it had been doing to JC.
The tapeworm also explained why JC briefly recovered when doctors gave her a B12 shot because the nutrient went straight into her bloodstream and wasn't stolen from her gut by the tapeworm.
"As the B12 stores in her liver started to become depleted, and they were probably already low because of how she ate before the five-day old sushi, her nerves started wasting away," ChubbyEmu said.
"Those wrong chemicals built up and slowly ripped apart her nerves."
JC was given a single dose of praziquantel, an anti-worm medication and JC made a full recovery.
Originally published as Woman's brain altered by old servo sushi