Monday, September 6, 2010

Medical Mondays: Ondine's Curse


Well. This was inevitable.

I'm trying to keep myself in study mode for my board exams, but I KNEW sooner or later I'd learn something I'd feel compelled to share with you guys.

So I take a brief break from studying nonstop to tell you about a disease called Ondine's Curse (more correctly called Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome).

It's an extremely rare medical condition in which some sufferers can only breath voluntarily.

Meaning...if they fall sleep, they don't breathe enough and can die.

How can that be, you ask? Well, in the congenital form in infants, it can be fatal. It's so rare, doctors don't usually look for it. But in adults, it's caused by an auto accident, stroke, or neurosurgical complication to the centers of the brain that control breathing. They often need to use a ventilator machine to breath at night or an electronic pacer device to zap their diaphragm muscle into helping them breathe. Certain medications can also help.

The name Ondine's Curse comes from a German myth. Ondine was a water nymph in love with a mortal man. She gave up her immortality when she fell in love with him and bore him a child. He had promised, "Every waking breath will be a testament to my love for you."

When he became unfaithful, she cursed him—if he ever fell asleep, his breath would be taken from him and he would die. Eventually, from exhaustion, the man did fall asleep. And he succumbed to the curse.

Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice! (See sidebar disclaimer)

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at



***

This is edited to add...this disease and blog post inspired me to write my first published book, CONTROL. See the tab above on CCHS/Ondine's Curse to learn even more!

48 comments:

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the lesson--I was not familiar with Ondine's Curse.

Vicki Rocho said...

You just don't mess with women...especially those with power.

Connie said...

I just read about this the other day. Weird, huh?

I hope the studying is going well.

The Words Crafter said...

Wow! For a story purpose, this is ultra cool. In reality, it's extremely tragic. I'd never heard of this before. Wow. Thanks for sharing and, just for the record, it's good to take a break once in a while. Good luck!

Piedmont Writer said...

Thanks for this. I have beautiful sculpter of Ondine and never knew who she was.

Hope your studies are going well.

Laura Pauling said...

That would make an interestin retelling!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Whoah, that's a freaky, but interesting, one. I'd heard about Ondine, but never realised the story behind her. :)

Jonene Ficklin said...

Wow. Puts a real spin on the saying 'as natural as breathing', doesn't it? I can only imagine how it must be for those under the real-life curse. My brother-in-law sometimes forgets to breathe (while awake), so it can't be the same as Ondine's Curse, can it?

Shelley HW said...

Eek! (Remembers to breathe.)

Interesting trivia.

Patti Lacy said...

WOW! LOVED this snippet of medical minutiae.

Now back to your studies!!

LOL.
Blessings,
Patti

B.E. Sanderson said...

Wow, talk about a woman scorned. I guess that's one way to make sure your man keeps his promise. In all seriousness, though, what a horrible thing for actual people to face. When I read about it's cause in adults being an auto accident, I took a deep breath and thanked my lucky stars that didn't happen to me.

Good luck with your studying, Lydia. And thanks for taking a break to post this. =o)

Alesa Warcan said...

Wow, that must be seriously inconvenient to live with... During the day time while trying to do anything having to consciously remember to breathe each breath. Yikes.

Very interesting.
-
Gambatte on your studies!

Jemi Fraser said...

How cool - love the myth :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I learn the most interesting details here. Glad you had to pass this on!
Now...go study some more :)

Bee said...

OH.
MY.
GOD.

That's so crazy and yet so cool ;)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never knew there was such a thing.

Deb Salisbury said...

Wow! I'd never dreamed of that problem. How scary.

How can I work it into a story? ;-)

Happy Labor Day!

Lynn said...

How neat! I now wonder how many medical terms/names come from Greek myths. I sometimes wish we could still create myths instead of using old ones. Hmm...maybe we can.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Weird disorder but interesting myth! It made me want to read the whole story now lol!

Jolene Perry said...

I love medical Mondays

Giles Hash said...

That's crazy! I couldn't imagine having that curse. Interesting how it was named, though.

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, how cool. Well, I mean it's not cool, cuz you can die and stuff, but I had no idea. Thanks for enlightening me! :)

Abby said...

Wow, I'd hate to have this disease! Very interesting how it was named, though.

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

Cool - the myth not the medical condition.

Journaling Woman said...

Wow, thanks for sharing. Now, get back to your studies. :)

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for sharing. Glad this is a rare thing. You are taking breaks for chocolate, right?

aspiring_x said...

jiminey christmas! that would be HORRIBLE!!! the feeling of not being able to breathe is one of the worst things ever!! thanks for the education!! :)

Krispy said...

That medical condition sucks so much, but the mythology from which it gets its name is SO COOL! I love that kind of stuff - mythology, that is. Talk about a nasty curse. LOVED this tidbit!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for this post. I was not familiar with Ondine's Curse.

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Oooo..I love mythology but OMG this illness is horrid! I had never heard of this before, the myth or the disease. Always a' learnin' something over here. Thanks for sharing and hope you had a great weekend!

Tamika: said...

Now that is interesting! The curse is almost as creepy as the reality of the illness!

Jai Joshi said...

How fascinating! I'm glad you took a little time from studying to tell us about Ondine's Curse.

Jai

Munk said...

*Gasp*

Robyn Campbell said...

Lydia, since your title (Gone In a Gallop)came so close to winning, I am giving you a $15.00 Barnes & Noble gift card. Shoot me an email with your address, okay?

Congrads. :)

Amanda Sablan said...

I had heard about the rare Ondine's Curse but not the legend behind it. :o

Heh heh, that's what he gets.

lbdiamond said...

Oh yeah, this takes me back! Thanks for the medical and "classical" lesson! :D

Heather said...

I didn't know that legend! That is awesome! And kind of frightening. After I suffered a head injury I woke up a few times because I had stopped breathing. Thankfully I'm back to normal now, but now I know it wasn't my imagination!

notesfromnadir said...

Thank you, Lydia, this is a fascinating story!

Faith said...

Oh great, now that I've read this I'm hyper aware of my breathing and will probably forget to breathe because I'm thinking about breathing and then I'll get all panicking and think I have the disorder and pass out and then...

Oh, nope, I'm okay now. ;)

Thanks for the crazy info!

Sarah Mullen Gilbert said...

Crazy stuff, but so cool. Has to be a book of some kind in there :) Thanks for bringing the awesome, Lydia!

Anonymous said...
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Ed Pilolla said...

this is one of the scariest conditions i've heard of-- at least until i hear of the next scariest. that's what gives it such literary value, the major fear factor for the reader and tragedy for the character.
i already snap awake some night thinking i stopped breathing. now the snap awake may be even more explosive:)
these exotic medical conditions are so much fun. reading about them is like going to a horror movie i know will keep me up at night, which they do to me.
good to see you again:) good luck with your certification and studying. i'm just getting some balance and organization back in my life and am looking forward to reading your back posts (to me anyway) over the next few weeks.

DEZMOND said...

oh, Lyds, this was probably your most interesting MEDICAL MONDAY post. I've never heard of this illness, it's so scary and intriguing. And the myth is amazing as well. I wonder why nobody has put this in a film or on TV so far?

Lydia Kang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shelley colquitt said...

My daughter has this disease. She is now 11years old

confessionsofasleepdeprivedmomma.blogspot.com

Melinda said...

My son also has this disease. He has a trach and is on a ventilator. If you want more information on CCHS (we prefer not to call it a "curse". Our son is a blessing), please go to the CCHS Network on the internet or you can also view my blog
yourcurseismymiracle.blogspot.com

Frank Sit said...

yeah i agree so nice, i recommand it to my friends and i,ll be back again and again visit Fetal Maternal Monitor for more info

nurul iman said...

thanks really to the news ... hopefully more successfull.
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