Monday, March 26, 2012

Medical Mondays: A Most Inconvenient Paralysis

This week's odd medical phenomenon is Periodic Paralysis. I've studied this for every board exam and and still have never seen a case of it. But it's so odd, it needs its own post.

These are a set of diseases whereby the sufferers experience short bouts of muscle weakenss or even total body paralysis, but are completely conscious. It's caused by abnormalities in the ion channels of the muscles.

The triggers for these episodes are:
  • carbohydrate-rich meals
  • exercise
  • fasting
  • stress
  • excitement
Sometimes people are found to have either very low blood potassium levels, or even high potassium levels during the attacks. Having an overactive thyroid can also trigger it. Half of sufferers often suffer from complicated migraines as well.

The treatment is usually via medications to help stabilize potassium levels, and are often targeted to the specific subtype of Periodic Paralysis based on gene type.

The disease is also hereditary--if a parent has the disease, their kids have a 50% chance of inheriting the condition.

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  All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar ---> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

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45 comments:

Old Kitty said...

I've never heard of such an affliction but I am now watching my potassium levels like a HAWK!!

Take care
x

Kelly Polark said...

Wow, that is one crazy ailment...*melts in a puddle on my couch*

Kelly Polark said...

Wow, that is one crazy ailment...*melts in a puddle on my couch*

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Oh wow. Now I want to write a character with that!

Meredith said...

That's got to be such a challenging (and annoying) disease! Totally strange.

Mrs. Silverstein said...

Eek! When you write about conditions like this, can you include info about when it kicks in? Like, if I don't have it yet in my mid-20s, do I need to worry about it? (That would probably help authors, too, but also your twitchier readers like me!)

Linda Gray said...

I love Medical Mondays! This is a great one for fiction writers. Thanks for the visuals!

LTM said...

Dr. K, you are just wrong. Now I'm all over here laughing at "Warrior Down!" :D

Yes, what a terrible malady, and hats off to anyone who's got it and can lead a normal life...

*sniggle*

LTM said...

Dr. K, you are just wrong. Now I'm all over here laughing at "Warrior Down!" :D

Yes, what a terrible malady, and hats off to anyone who's got it and can lead a normal life...

*sniggle*

Jax said...

Omg, that's insane! Sometimes your page makes me twitch. lol My family doesn't have the disease, so I'm hoping that I'm in the clear.

Did you hear about the people that can only walk on all 4 limbs? There's a family of them in Sweden. That would be an interesting medical post!

E.J. Wesley said...

Ha! Just catching up on Downton Abbey Season 2 and one of the characters (no spoilers!) becomes paralyzed. Though I think it was related to an actual physical event, still left me trying to come up with answers.

Pasta overload never crossed my mind! : )

Seriously though, can we just call carbs the devil and be done with it? Big butts, paralysis--is there anything good they do for us?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh my, that's a scary malady! And to think it can happen from everyday activities is even more frightening. But your examples are hilarious, so I'm smiling (and avoiding carbs) ;)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That one would be a bit inconvenient! Seems like a lot of things trigger it as well.

Tamara Narayan said...

ACK! You've just sent my hyper-chondriac tendencies into overdrive. I suffer from terrible migraines AND my last blood test showed a low potassium level AND I just The Wizard of Oz on TV last night. I'm melting, I'm melting. What a world!

Oh wait. I'm still typing. Whew!

Sarah Pearson said...

Wow, I bet that would be scary if you had an attack for the first time!

Belle said...

I laughed so hard at your descriptions of people having this malady! Sooo funny. The only time I ended up as a puddle of goo is at a hospital after a D & C. I lost too much blood and they didn't realize it.

Liza said...

Oh gosh, I'll pass on that one.

Carrie Butler said...

That sounds pretty scary! I used something similar (symptom-wise) in one of my WiPs, but it was fugu poisoning. Eek!

Great post, as always! :)

Connie Keller said...

That is so bizarre. I can't imagine trying to explain that one to friends or employers.

MTeacress said...

I watched What Lies Beneath for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and this post reminds me of the climactical scary scene. Have you seen it?

Have a good week. :)

Heather said...

Hmmm, I could totally use this.

Angela Brown said...

Oh no. I'm sitting here thinking that if this were used for a story, the sufferer could have some seriously intense moments of internal thinking.

Barbara Watson said...

So far I haven't placed characters in my books with medical maladies, but you're totally making me want to.

Julie Dao said...

That sounds like a terrifying condition! It's scary enough when you're half asleep and half conscious and you try to move a muscle but can't! I couldn't imagine going into temporary paralysis, no matter how delicious the ravioli.

Coleen Patrick said...

Scary! But at the same time it reminds me how my kids would suddenly crumple to the floor like they couldn't walk when it was time to go to bed. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

This is a strange malady indeed. If you included it in fiction, you'd probably get called out without a great lead-in and explanation.

Jenn said...

I'm never gonna be able to do yoga again without envisioning the yoga instructor yell out "Warrior down!"

Man, I love Medical Mondays! I always learn so much. And realize how healthy and blessed I really am. ;)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a weird ailment that we all hope we don't get.

Jemi Fraser said...

Now that's a quirky ailment! Could be a lot of fun to write about! :)

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

I love those visuals, what an unfortunate condition!

Jay Noel said...

That's a weird condition!

I'd better be careful, as my body has a hard time keeping potassium. I take potassium supplements. Not fun. Huge horse pills and they look like balls of styrofoam.

Susan Fields said...

That would definitely make life interesting...

mooderino said...

Reminds me a little of narcolepsy. Can't be easy to live with either.

mood

February Grace said...

Wow. That could be darn inconvenient.

Another great post!(I especially loved the yoga class bit *giggle*)

bru

lbdiamond said...

I think Blogger ate my comment. I made a joke and everything.

*sigh*

Love your scenarios!

Southpaw said...

ow bizarre and what completely different triggers!

Clara said...

Holly cow, Medical Mondays on tweeter!??? Oh hail yes!
Absolutely loved this Lydia : )

Krispy said...

I imagine this would be even more inconvenient if you were also an intrepid YA heroine who had to save the world. I mean, imagine being in The Hunger Games with this!

Kimberlee Turley said...

Laughed so hard at the yoga comment!

Warrior Down!

Emily Rose said...

Wow I've never heard of this! Haha, warrior down.;)

Carol Riggs said...

That is SO weird. Freaky, too! Now we are informed, thanks to you. :) Love your drawing!!!

Maurice Mitchell said...

That is a wild one! I'll bet it's been on House at least once. ***Googling***

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