Imagine waking up almost every night, shaking with chills, unable to get warm under a pile of quilts, sweating profusely, then seeing your temperature rise to 102 or 103 degrees… and an hour later vomiting until there was nothing left inside of you.
That is what a woman in rural Alabama experienced nearly every single night for nearly a decade. During the day her bones would ache, she felt tired and weak, had no appetite, had severe hives, and had lost over 80 pounds in a year.
She’d been to the E.R. of her local hospital several times, and seen several specialists in Tuscaloosa, Ala. but no one had any clue what was wrong with her; until Alabama’s own Dr. House — Dr. Forest Huls, a pathology resident at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham — diagnosed her with an extremely rare auto immune disorder called Schnitzler syndrome.
It all began with Dr. Jori May, an internist in her second year of training, who met the woman and began to study her charts and records. From the jump, she was unable reach a diagnosis. Eventually she stumbled upon an antibody, known as IgM, that was high and referred her to an infectious-disease specialist, who found no infection. May was stumped. No others doctors could figure out what was going on either.
Flash forward seven months and May received an 11-page note from Dr. Huls, who was not involved in the case, suggesting the patient had Schnitzler syndrome.
Turns out, Huls was right about his diagnosis.
Thankfully, even though the illness is very rare, there is an effective treatment. Once May’s patient began taking the treatment the shaking chills and fever disappeared. Along with the nausea, vomiting, hives and bone pain.
“When I see people suffering and I know that if I took the time and effort, I could figure it out, then I have to do something,” Huls told the New York Times.
According to the New York Times, Huls is currently finishing his fellowship. He has yet to decide where he will end up.