A mother of three had to be taken to a psychiatric hospital when a tumor on her ovary caused a brain disorder that caused her to hallucinate and become violent.
Lorina Gutierrez, 39, suffered from seizures, her heart stopped and she lost the ability to walk, talk and eat because of the rare disease.
Her doctors thought she had a nervous breakdown and her husband, Stephen, 42, even sprayed her with water because he thought she was possessed.
But the real culprit was a rare swelling of the brain, called autoimmune encephalitis, which was caused by a huge growth on one of her ovaries.
Lorina Gutierrez, 39, was suffering from hallucinations, seizures and violent behavior as a result of her own immune system that attacked her brain, a condition caused by an ovarian tumor
The 42-year-old Mrs. Gutierrez, Stephen, said his wife acted as if possessed by an evil spirit, became paranoid because there were cameras in the couple's house and even tried to beat Mr Gutierrez during her psychiatric rating
Gutierrez, a truck driver, said: "I was as scared as if she were possessed. The night after she got home from the ER we were awake all night.
She could not sleep and she just talked about gibberish. She kept saying, "We have to leave here, we have to leave."
& # 39; She kept standing up and tried to leave the house.
& # 39; The next morning I brought her to her doctor, who asked me if she had drunk or used drugs. & # 39;
The couple, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, are parents of Jonathan, 25, Matthew, 19 and Alyssa, 16, and are now determined to raise awareness about the condition.
Autoimmune encephalitis is a serious disease in which the body's immune system reacts excessively – in this case to Ms. Gutierrez's tumor – and attacks a person's brain.
It can cause epileptic seizures, problems with movement or communication, psychosis, aggression and panic attacks.
According to the International Auto Immune Encephalitis Society, the condition affects about 90,000 people annually.
The husband and wife Gutierrez and their doctors were stunned by her sudden change in character, making her paranoid because there were cameras in her house.
She said: & # 39; They believed I had a nervous breakdown, although I had no history of mental health problems.
& # 39; In the course of a few days my husband said that my attitude had completely changed.
I can not remember this but he said I was scared and I was afraid there were cameras in the house.
& # 39; I told him we had to disconnect them. I kept trying to escape and get out of the house. & # 39;
Ms. Gutierrez's condition was caused by a huge six by six inch (15 cm) tumor that had grown on one of her ovaries. After the tumor was removed, physicians rinsed the harmful immune cells from her body using blood filtering and steroids
Mrs. Gutierrez (pictured for her ordeal) said she does not remember much of her treatment, but now makes her mission of increasing the awareness of autoimmune encephalitis
WHAT IS AUTOIMMUNE ENCEFALITIS?
Autoimmune encephalitis is a serious medical condition where the immune system attacks the brain and damages the function.
It is caused by a problem with the immune system (the natural defenses of the body against infection).
The immune system mistakes healthy tissue in the brain as a threat and attacks it, causing the brain to become inflamed and swell.
The body produces antibodies that attack the NMDA receptors in the brain, proteins that cause electrical impulses.
Their functioning is necessary for judgment, perception of reality, human interaction, memory and control over unconscious activities such as breathing and swallowing.
It is not always clear why the immune system functions in this way.
Some cases of autoimmune encephalitis are caused by the immune system reacting to the presence of a tumor (an abnormal growth) in the body.
The main symptoms are flu-like, but people also develop memory loss, sleep problems and are unable to communicate or speak coherently.
They can get confused, have hallucinations or show strange behavior.
Other symptoms are seizures, loss of consciousness and movement disorders.
Source: The Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis Foundation
The situation reached a crisis when she tried to beat her husband during a medical assessment, and doctors decided to send her to a psychiatric ward.
& # 39; The doctors thought it was a depression or a nervous breakdown and I trusted that, & # 39; said Mr. Gutierrez.
& # 39; During her psychiatric consultation she went to me and we had to stop her, it was so strange in character.
& # 39; It was then that she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. At one point I threw a little holy water on her. & # 39;
The frightening behavior of his wife compared to the horror film of 1973, The Exorcist, he joked: "Afterwards my family told me that they would not have been surprised if her head started turning after I did."
In the psychiatric hospital, doctors realized that Ms. Gutierrez's symptoms were caused by her immune system attacking her brain.
And then they found a tumor six by six inches (15 cm) on one of her ovaries.
Autoimmune encephalitis can occur as a result of swelling because the body produces antibodies to target the tumor, but they exaggerate and affect the brain.
At this point, Ms Gutierrez experienced six attacks a day when doctors removed the tumor and tried to remove her body from the dangerous antibodies using a process called plasmapheresis – filtering of the blood – and heavy steroids.
Mrs. Gutiérrez said: & # 39; During my stay in the hospital, I coded blue and they had to resuscitate me.
I lost all functions, the ability to walk, talk, eat or even go to the toilet. I was a 39-year-old woman who wore adult diapers.
& # 39; In the course of three months I underwent speech, physical and occupational therapy, but I do not remember much of it. It is a haze.
& # 39; Right now I am in remission but I can fall back at any time. It can not be cured, it is only treatable. It has affected my whole life. It was a very traumatic experience. & # 39;
Mrs. Gutierrez, who needed speech, physical and occupational therapy, said she can not be cured of the condition that makes the brain swell and fears that it may return at any time.
Despite the trauma of her illness, Ms. Gutierrez believes her faith has helped her stay positive.
And she and her husband are now dedicated to increasing the awareness of autoimmune cis.
Despite the trauma of her illness, Lorina believes her faith has helped her stay positive.
She said: & # 39; I am a survivor and I really feel that I can help others with experience and information. I now know that that is my goal. & # 39;