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Aunt helps save life of niece by finding explanation for her erratic behavior
April 25, 2017
Rheanna Jones’ mom Rose Church was about to put Rheanna in a group home, according to a news report on YouTube. The suicidal teen had taken out a set of knives and told Rose she was ready to use them to harm herself. Rose was at her wit's end, so she sat on the floor of her bathroom and cried. Then Rose got a phone call from her sisters that changed everything.
Rose’s sisters were surfing the Internet when they stumbled on a blog post about a child who had an illness called PANDAS. PANDAS is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, according to the National Institute of Health. The illness happens when strep bacteria crosses the blood-brain barrier. Kids with PANDAS seem to change overnight and start displaying unusual behavior such as tics, obsessive compulsive behavior and anxiety.
As Rheanna’s aunts read over the symptoms of the illness, according to the news report, they realized that they lined up with the erratic behavior Rheanna was exhibiting. Rose listened to her sisters and got Rheanna tested for PANDAS. When Rheanna went to the doctor, she was diagnosed with the illness quickly and was put on a high dosage of antibiotics. The Jones’ think Rheanna developed PANDAS after coming down with a strep throat infection in middle school. The antibiotics helped Rheanna’s body fight the strep that was attacking her brain. A little while later, Rheanna was herself again. She was no longer dark, moody and irritable. Her love for life and sports came back and all the symptoms that her illness caused vanished.
Though she is much better now, Rheanna told her harrowing story to local news channel WCIA 3 to spread awareness about the illness and call for compassion.
“You never know what happens behind closed doors,” Jones said to Rantoul Press. “I looked fairly normal on the outside, but I was disintigrating on the inside. You could look at someone and tell them what you think about them. If it’s bad, you’re going to tear that person up. If you’re like ‘oh my gosh, she’s psychotic’ That’s what people told me. When it comes to the kids who have medical issues like bipolar or multi-personality disorder, whether they want to admit it or not, are dying on the inside.”