Angels Among Us – Medical Mystery

Angels Among Us

RANTOUL — What if your bright, happy child suddenly spiraled out of control? Rheanna Jones is happiest when she’s competing, but it doesn’t matter if she wins or loses. Just being out here is a victory.

“I thought we had seen the last of our sports days with her,” said her mom Rose Jones-Church.

A thought that seemed out of the question when she was young. Rheanna was a natural athlete. Growing up she racked up the hardware. She was a national champion in gymnastics and a star softball pitcher.

But then came sixth grade. Rheanna’s ever-present smile disappeared. Her confidence was gone. Instead it was anxiety, ADHD and tantrums.

Her dad, Roger Jones, remembered, “She became combative, very angry, screaming, yelling. My parenting skills were challenged to a point that I felt completely unarmed.”

Then came OCD and tics. She was pulling out her eyelashes and hair.

“On the inside, it’s a big cry for help in a big, dark room where I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Rheanna.

Rheanna had severe separation anxiety from her mother. Dozens of texts and calls would pour in from school, every single day.

Rose said, “She would be underneath desks in the attendance center calling ‘Mommy, I can’t do this.'”

Rheanna would tell her if she didn’t come get her she was going to walk out of school and into the highway. The now high school freshman was suicidal and depressed.

She was in and out of psych units and would sleep 17 hours a day. No one knew why.

“The doctors would really just throw their hands up,” recalled Rose.

But then her aunts stepped in and saved her life.One of them happened to read a blog post. It was from a mother whose son was suffering, just like Rheanna.

Theresa Hardy said, “It was every symptom, one right after the other. It was like ‘Oh my gosh. She has that. She has that and that and that.’ I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Rheanna’s mom will never forget the phone call that came next. She was getting ready to put her daughter in a group home.

“It was 9 am on a Saturday and I was literally in tears on the bathroom floor,” Rose remembered. “Rheanna pulled the knives out. She was either going to kill herself or kill me. I’ll never forget Theresa said, ‘We think we know what’s wrong with Rheanna.'”

Turns out she had a rare disorder known for short as P.A.N.D.A.S. Simply put, the body fights a strep infection and attacks the brain at the same time. She had come down with strep throat four years earlier.

Rose said, “We went up to see a specialist in Chicago. Within 15 minutes, he diagnosed her. We all walked out and sat in the car and cried.”

The doctor put Rheanna on a high dose of antibiotics. Within one week, she was back.

She said, “For the first time, I could sit there and I could breathe. It wasn’t World War III in my head. Every time I cry but it’s just that no one understood. It took one doctor out of 16 to tell me what’s wrong.”

“If you think you’re proud of your child, watch them go through something like this, “said Roger. “The determination for her to overcome, it was pretty incredible.”

The 16-year old still has challenges to overcome. Sports and school don’t come as easy as they used to.

Rheanna is trying to make up for time lost. Her mom said at least life doesn’t feel impossible anymore.

“I can now sit and enjoy the game without welling up inside and saying, ‘Oh my goodness. I can’t believe she’s back out there again.'”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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