Until about three weeks ago, 12-year-old Katelyn Thornley was just a normal seventh-grader. As she was leaving a clarinet lesson one day, however, Katelyn started sneezing. She says, “It was just a few sneezes here and there, but by the time I went to bed, I had sneezed 30 times that night.” Katelyn has not stopped sneezing since and now sneezes approximately 12,000 times per day, averaging two sneezes per minute, but sometimes suffers bouts of up to 20 sneezes per minute, for 15 or more minutes straight.
The condition is affecting every area of Katelyn’s life, as she can no longer attend school, play her clarinet, or even eat, drink, or sleep properly. And the worst part is that doctors have no idea what’s wrong with the Angleton, Texas, girl. Her parents took her to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where baffled physicians can only surmise that her condition might be caused by some sort of tic.
“She had kind of a funny feeling that she described in her nose and that piece of her history is very common for tics,” said Dr. Mered Parnes, child neurologist and director of the pediatric movement disorders clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Typically doctors see tics — which are said to affect about 10 percent of children — when something is stressing a child out. Unfortunately, the exact cause of Katelyn’s condition remains unknown, but with any luck, perhaps someone out there who knows how to help will see and be touched by this incredibly brave girl’s story.