Archive for September 23, 2010

The Curious Case of the Increasingly Muscular Woman

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

It sounds like something right out of an episode of House.

Sally Massagee, a North Carolina mother in her early 50s, began noticing something strange happening to her body several years ago.

While some of us would give anything to have our muscles grow without going to the gym, the old adage “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind in this situation.

Massagee’s muscles starting growing all on their own. Even the muscles which move her eyes were 3-4 times larger than in a normal person!

She says she never went to the gym and had no explanation for the transformation.

As the muscles grew, however, they started to get hard as well. This was causing severe pain and she found she had difficulty performing even minor tasks.

I couldn’t reach up to fold over the turtleneck on my sweater…I couldn’t reach my ears to put on earrings.

She saw several doctors at Duke University, but they came up empty-handed in the way of a diagnosis. Consequently, she was not accepted into the Mayo Clinic since she did not have a diagnosable ailment.

In 2008, however, she was accepted into the Undiagnosed Disease Program at the National Institute of Health . After a couple more years of tests and tests and more tests, doctors finally came up with an answer.

Apparently, abnormal proteins which are supposed to attack organs, were instead attacking her skeletal muscles. Although this is a step in the right direction, doctors are still working on a treatment.

I’m glad to know that there is a place like the Undiagnosed Disease Program which performs this kind of work. It must be difficult emotionally, but the challenge and eventual success must be very satisfying.