Imagine thinking your child—as an infant—has a bad case of chicken pox only to find out that it’s not chicken pox but a very bad reaction to some medication (in this instance, an anti-convulsant). Then imagine finding out that the reaction has a name: Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). And it can bring on a number of life-threatening symptoms in addition to leaving scars and medical conditions that can last a lifetime.
That’s what happened when Julie McCawley, now 16, was an infant and was admitted to a hospital for what was seemingly a very bad case of chicken pox. Covered with burn-like blisters, her eyes began to swell shut and she was finally diagnosed with SJS as the result of taking an anti-convulsant.
While Julie is fortunate to be alive, she has since endured 13 surgeries to counter the lasting effects of SJS and she is now blind in her right eye and photophobic. She also carries the scars from the blisters that once covered her body.
Discovery Health’s Mystery Diagnosis will be airing a segment on Julie’s experience—it’s a program that all parents should aim to watch to become more aware of SJS, which can be difficult to diagnose—and according to Julie’s mother, Jean, that’s simply because “so few doctors are familiar with SJS”.
The Discovery Health Mystery Diagnosis program on SJS will air on March 22—check your local listings for times and channels.