The mysterious illness is so inconceivably strange that five years after it became noticeable, doctors still have no idea what could be causing it.
Note only that, physicians treating her at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore, US said Isom is the only person in the world suffering from the bizarre medical condition.
It all started in 2009, when Isom, then a law student at the University of Memphis, suffered a massive asthma attack. She went into the emergency room where she was given a large dose of steroids.
Soon after, she developed an allergic reaction to the steroids, and her skin began to itch uncontrollably. Although she was prescribed Benadryl and other allergy drugs, her condition kept growing worse.
“It was uncontrollable and we didn’t know what it was. Black scabs were coming out of her skin,” Kathy Gary, Isom’s mother explained. “The nails would grow so long and come out and regrow themselves. They are hard to touch and stick to you,” she added.
Soon, her legs started to turn black. The doctors then conducted more tests and finally figured out that Isom was producing 12 times the number of skin cells in each hair follicle.
Instead of growing hair, the follicles were actually producing human nails. Doctors suspect that it could be due to a vitamin deficiency, or because her skin wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
The new treatment plan at Johns Hopkins is actually helping her condition improve a bit. Through intensive treatment, they have managed to remove the hard, spiny growths from the follicles on her head. “Her legs aren’t covered in black scabs,” her mother said.
“They are looking better, and her face just looks like she has a real bad sunburn,” doctors said. She has had to travel to Baltimore at least once a month since then, in order to have her condition monitored.
Unfortunately, the treatment is quite expensive and Isom has unpaid medical bills worth $1 million. The medicated pads that keep her alive cost $25,000 a month. Although she has state insurance, it doesn’t cover medical care in Maryland, where she lives. And to make matters worse, her mother lost her job as a medical receptionist because she has to care for her on a full-time basis. Meanwhile, the family’s savings have long since dried up.
“It’s almost as if it’s a nightmare and you’re trying to wake up out of that,” Isom said. “We had to depend on family and friends and different fundraisers and things like that to help me get back and forth.”
She also created the S.A.I Foundation (named after her initials) to help people who suffer from mysterious illnesses. The foundation accepts donations through various Bank of America branches. People have donated heavily to the cause, but the money just keeps disappearing in the face of all the treatments she has to go through.Follow Us on Social Media