Teratoma

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Amanda Murphy spent 2 months in a hospital mental ward strapped to her bed. She was violent one moment unresponsive the next, her decline was rapid virtually overnight. Her story has to be told by elder sister Rachel because Amanda simply doesn’t remember.

“How devastating was it for you to watch your sister like that?’ Asked Laura

“Oh it was horrible (swallows and looks at sister tears in her eyes)” Said Rachael

“What did you want to do for her?” Asked Laura

“We cried every time we left.” Said Rachel

Tonight the bizarre story of the reason behind Amanda's mental psychosis and it has nothing to do with her brain.

It's the monster within they found the monster that caused her to be what she was.

I didn't believe it until I saw the scars from the operation.

There's no awareness about it, how many people are locked up in a psych ward with this.

It was only 4 months ago when Amanda's nightmare began.

“I felt unusual, I had a headache, I wasn't right in myself. I started to get really agitated and I couldn't sit still. I ended up going back to the hospital they kept me there for a few hours and same thing just gave me valium that's pretty much all I remember from that,.” Said Amanda

‘That's the last thing you can remember ?” Asked Laura

“Yeah.” Said Amanda

On Christmas night last year Amanda was in hospital soon after she was diagnosed with Encephalitis, swelling of the brain. She descended into psychosis.

“The yelling, the screaming, the kicking, the hitting, the biting, anything you can imagine she done it, it was horrible, that’s if she wasn’t tied down, most of the time she had to be tied down.” Said Rachel

Medical specialists were mystified by Amanda's case. She hit rock bottom reverting back to being a child.

“She was like a 10 year old most days, she needed everything done for her, we just wanted to know what it really was, what is it, what are you going to treat her for, we need her treated, we don’t want her like this.” Said Rachel

Then finally after 6 psychiatrists and 3 different hospitals a breakthrough the 7th Psychiatrist ordered an ultrasound the results were astonishing.

“It does look like a foetus doesn't it?” Said Laura

“Yeah it looks like a baby.” Said Rachel

It was a Teratoma a greek word meaning monster a tumour like this wrapped around her right ovary.

“What is it?” Asked Laura

“A tumour with brain matter, teeth, hair, um it’s like a little foetus that disguises itself as a cyst it can triple in size.” Said Rachel

“How did the medical staff explain the Teratoma?” Asked Laura

The monster inside that’s what they pretty much said to us. It didn’t sound like it was something true, it sounded like it was all made up. But it wasn’t made up.

To see your sane wife or mother descend into apparent madness, develop bizarre demon possessed type movements, it’s an awful condition.

Amanda isn’t the first Australian to be invaded by this alien growth. Dr Tim Kleinig is Director of Neurology at Adelaide's Lyell McEwin Hospital.

This growth is not a foetus, it's a benign mix of tissues like muscle, skin or hair, but they're joined together randomly and not in a connected organised fashion that a foetus is joined together.

He explains the presence of the Teratoma triggers the body to attack it, but the brain matter in the tumour confuses the immune system.

As collateral damage the brain cells are attacked by the immune system it gets confused between the abnormal growth and the normal brain tissue and attacks them both at the same time.

The link between Teratomas and encephalitis was only discovered 5 years ago before that, patients were treated purely for mental psychosis. They might be in comas for months at a time, sometimes they'd recover, sometimes they'd die.

“I was paranoid, trying to shout at people screaming yelling abuse. I was taken to different hospitals and lots of tests were run and if it wasn’t for a long time after I was admitted that they diagnosed me with schizophrenia.” Said Georgie

Georgie Kemp lives less than an hour’s drive away from Amanda, she was less fortunate. Sending two years battling schizophrenia ballooning out to 150 kilos.

I was in a psych ward for 3 months, I remember I was forced to take medication, you know I was aggressive in there, I remember throwing a chair at one of the staff, they tried to give me ECT, I refused, my mum refused.’ Said Georgie

It was only after she started experiencing abdominal pain that doctors eventually diagnosed her Teratomas, one on each ovary.

“They found a 3.5 kilo Teratoma on my left ovary, my baby was only 3.3 kilos born six months ago so it was bigger than a newborn baby and a rock melon sized cyst on my right ovary.” Said Georgie

“It's quite devastating isn’t it, to think you had to suffer for two years before this got diagnosed.” Said Laura

“You get quite cranky and you know upset. You know many days you cry about it, I just lost so much. So much stuff my personality, my house, my job, you know just lost everything. “ Said Georgie

“How soon was it before you started feeling better” Asked Laura

“The next day, I felt like a different person the next day.” Said Georgie

Now Georgie is married and mum to six-month-old Madison, the bad news is, another Teratoma is developing but this time it's being monitored and doctors will eventually remove it.

“It's quite scary to think it could happen all over again because it happened so quickly before, just overnight, so I'm always watching and waiting. “ Said Georgie

Amanda is thankfully on the mend and gives this warning to anyone suffering random mental health problems.

“I could still possibly be locked up and strapped to a bed, and I'm not, I'm home I'm happy, I'm healthy I'm almost back to where I was so I’m lucky, very lucky and I'm alive.” Said Amanda

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