In 2009 Emily Gavigan, during her sophomore year at the University of Scranton, was alarmingly paranoid and regularly rambled. She was convinced that terrible things were about to happen to her family.
Emily’s parents were very concerned too but didn’t really know what to do, but the Gavigans were not able to turn a blind eye to the situation any more, especially when Emily mysteriously disappeared one afternoon!
For the afternoon in question none of the family were able to get in touch with her for a full 24 hours, until finally they got a call from Emily’s Grandparents in New Jersey to say that she had turned up there unexpectedly.
She had driven all the way to New Jersey from Pennsylvania without any money at all, flying through the tolls as she went without paying! WHen she arrived there she said that a truck had followed her all the way.
Grandfather looked out of the window for the truck, but he didn’t see any trucks, emily’s parents came to the conclusion that it really was the time to get her some professional help.
The doctors thought that Emily’s problems were psychological, like her parents had thought, and though they ran tests on her and tried various medcine, nothing seemed to have an effect.
The treatments, if anything, made Emily even worse and at this point the doctors thought that her condition may be physical in nature, like a tumor on the brain, but they couldn’t find any physical evidence that this was the case either.
The whole family tried everything they could, but desperately nothing really helped or got to the bottom of the problem and all the time Emily was still getting worse.
In a strange turn of events the family were alerted to an episode of the ‘Today Show’, and to their surprise and shock something made them sit up and pay attention!
The story they heard was of a New York Post reporter, Susannah Cahalan, she wrote an article about the time she spent a month thinking she was for sure losing the plot. The storey sounded very similar to what the family had experienced with Emily, which prompted the doctors to then run tests on Emily!
Susannah suffered from a condition of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, which causes the immune system to attack parts of the brain, causing neurological damage and strange behaviour.
Emily’s doctors were not receptive at all to the family’s suggestion and queries, they were convinced that the family were just grasping at straws.
After some time though Emily was in fact tested for the condition, and guess what, it was positive! Now Emily had not only a correct diagnosis but could be considered for treatment that could actually help.
The Long road to recovery had finally started and there was light at the end of Emily’s long dark tunnel, finally. She could at last begin to return to the life she had before the condition robbed her of her mental faculties.
And so in 2012, after Emily had recovered she then joined Cahalan on the ‘Today Show’ and shared her story too of how the show had really saved her life.
Many miles away in Omaha, Nebraska, another family, the Jensen family, were watching this time as the Gavin’s had previously. Their daughter Madison was going through the same sort of experiences and had the same symptoms Emily had.
Madison’s mother really didn’t know what was going on with her daughter, that is until she saw the show too. Then, after that, she felt positive that she had found what would also save her 6 year old.
Madison is the wonderful age of 10, and is living happily thanks to Cahalan and Emily sharing and talking about their stories on television. Her mother hopes that one day they will be able to also share Madison’s tale and again help someone else too!