Kertisha was a perfectly healthy 31-year old until she was struck down by a puzzling illness that no doctor could identify. After three months in a coma, the situation seemed hopeless. Here's her one-in-a-million story.
Everything Was Fine
Kertisha "Tisha" Brabson had a perfectly average life back in 2018. She resided in Alliance, Ohio, with her two children, and lived near her mother Kertease, with whom she shared a tight-knit bond.
Both she and her mother were happy and healthy and had no reason to expect that that would change anytime soon. That is until Tisha fell ill, and no doctor could diagnose the cause. Over the course of a few days, their lives were plunged into a nightmare.
Some Symptoms Arose
It started when Tisha was 31 years old. And at first, the symptoms weren't obvious. They were minor enough that she didn't feel the need to tell anyone, as she didn't want to cause a fuss. First, she began to feel slightly ill at work. This continued for a short time before other symptoms began to arise.
And they were getting worse. Tisha was suddenly struck by bouts of crippling anxiety, something that she had never had any issues with. Even mild anxiety was unusual for her. At this point, she began to feel deep down that something was very wrong. Still, she decided not to act on it.
The Day it Happened
But even if she pretended to ignore what was going on, there was no way to truly deny it. "I just didn’t know what was going on inside of my body," she said. "I just knew something was wrong, I just didn't exactly know what was wrong." Until one fateful afternoon, when everything went wrong.
That was the day that Kertease, Tisha’s mother, received a horrifying phone call. It was another normal day in September, right up until her phone rang. It was a friend of Tisha's, who had spent the day with her daughter. She had some concerning news.
She Needed Medical Help
Throughout the day Tisha had been acting strangely, doing bizarre things that deeply troubled her friend. She was talking to herself and to others about things that made no sense. She was also holding her hands out to grasp things that weren't there.
As if that wasn’t worrying enough, at one point she got up and began dancing "as if she were at a rock concert." Her friend had seen enough, and it wasn't long before Tisha was taken to the hospital. After being questioned by staff about the events of the day, her response confused them.
"I don’t remember anything," Tisha told doctors. Not only did she not know why she had been acting so strangely, but she didn’t realize she’d been doing anything strange at all. Shortly after, a rushed and worried Kertease arrived at the hospital, desperate to know what was going on.
Now that the doctors had had some time to convene and discuss Tisha's strange symptoms, they realized something shocking. None of them could identify what was causing her bizarre behavior - they had nothing to formerly diagnose! It meant that the confused young woman now had to be officially admitted to the hospital.
Things Took a Turn
And that was just the beginning of the strange symptoms that began taking over Tisha's body. Under the surveillance of hospital staff, things began to get stranger, and more serious. Her condition was steadily worsening, and doctors still could not figure out what was going on.
"Something has taken over and is brewing in my daughter, I just don't know what," Kertease later recalled. It was clear to everyone that Tisha's mind and body were not functioning properly. And as it turned out, her mother was correct. Something serious was developing, and it was going to get worse before it got better.
It All Happened So Fast
The truth was that Kertisha had only been recently admitted to the hospital. But in a very short period, she had gone from being an otherwise healthy 31-year old showing unusual symptoms to a sickly woman who seemed to be on the precipice of a serious health crisis.
And to make matters worse, her mother and children had to stand by and watch it all happen. "It was crazy because her body was deteriorating right in front of your eyes," Kertease explained. "That's your child, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, and that was really heartbreaking."
Kertisha in a Coma
The physical deterioration of her daughter was heartbreaking enough, but what happened next must have felt like a shot to the heart for Kertease, as well as Perez and Diamonique, Tisha's two children. With no prior warning, Tisha experienced a debilitating seizure.
The seizure was bad enough that it sent her straight into a coma. It seemed as if things could hardly get any worse for the mother of two. That is until Tisha’s doctors came back to Kertease with something they had all been waiting for - a diagnosis.
An Unfortunate Answer
Tisha's doctors had been working hard to find answers for her family and to discover what was going on in Tisha's brain and body. And by the time she entered the coma, it seemed to confirm what they were beginning to think. They finally had a diagnosis.
But tragically, the diagnosis was not a hopeful one. Her doctors believed that Tisha was dealing with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an illness that pits a sufferer's body against its own brain cells. One of the major symptoms of a severe case was hallucinations and intense delusions - just as Tisha had experienced.
It Was Worse Than They Thought
Though this was serious enough, it got even worse for Tisha. In the eyes of her doctors, hers was a far more severe case of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. It was beyond their experiences, and they weren’t sure if there would be any further options for her.
In short, they were highly skeptical that Tisha Brabson could be helped at all. The disease was only worsening, and so they discussed her options back and forth. Finally, they called Kertease to the hospital with their final recommendation - to take her daughter off life support.
Was This the End?
Kertease was adamant at first. There was no world in which she would let her daughter pass away without a fight. "I don't have no doctor's background, never been to school for anything, but when it's your child you're going to do everything in your power to bring your daughter back," she insisted.
However, the months of sitting by Tisha's side in the hospital dragged on, one after another. And Tisha did not wake up or even stir. It was clear that she was not improving, and what's more, there was somehow further bad news... Tisha was declared braindead.
Refusing to Give Up
It was the worst thing they could have possibly told Kertease. They urged her to reconsider her position - her daughter was functionally braindead, and in such cases, it was usually customary to "pull the plug." She was in a near-impossible situation, and yet...
The loving mother and grandmother refused to budge. She knew she could not bring herself to do what the doctors were asking. "Doctors said 'pull the plug,' 'she's braindead,' things like that," Kertease later recalled. "I wouldn't do it." The moment the doctors made the suggestion, she knew what needed to happen.
Finding Plan B
Kertease withdrew her comatose daughter from that hospital and moved her to a new one. She could not give up on her sickly daughter, and couldn't fight the feeling that there was something wrong with her initial diagnosis. But time and time again her daughter was given the same dire news.
In her eyes, doctors simply hadn't found the right diagnosis and were dishing out hopeless advice because they didn't have the answers. "We were just going to keep moving her because once I saw the doctors scratching their heads, that clearly let me know they gave up on her and they don't know what’s going on," Kartease said.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
Then suddenly, after three months of her daughter being in a comatose state, there was a breakthrough! Or the beginning of one, at least. The thing is that ever since Tisha's seizure the small family had been given no sense of hope regarding Tisha's future. Everywhere they turned, it was a negative outlook from experts.
But through those months Kertease had never given up hope. "Every decision that I made was because she's got two little people that were depending on their mother to come home, and those were her kids," she insisted. And so she took the next big step, one that would change everything.
Determined to secure a brighter future for her daughter and grandchildren, Kartease got in touch with the Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. They reviewed Tisha's case and told Kartease that they were willing to treat her daughter. They sounded far more optimistic about the outcome.
So Tisha was moved one more time, and Kertease hoped it would be the last. Once there, she was poked and prodded by the bewildered doctors and nurses who were just as confused as everyone else who had treated her. But what they discovered shortly after only puzzled them more.
More Strange Discoveries
Kertease was taken aside by one of the doctors involved with Tisha's treatment. Her name was Dr. Shraddha Mainali, who worked at the Wexner's Brain and Spine Hospital. Her specialty was in stroke and neurological clinical care, and she had been analyzing Tisha's brain activity. What she found was disturbing.
According to their scans, Tisha had been having as many as 20 seizures, every single day. Kertease couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I was asking God, 'Just give me a sign, tell me what to do, please don't tell me I'm about to lose my baby,'" she said. More bad news was too much for this loving mother to bear.
"In someone like her condition there is a mortality rate above 60 percent," Dr. Mainali told her bluntly. There was no way to sugarcoat the situation, even while Kertease was overcome with emotion. But that wasn't all - the doctor had a plan of action if Kertease and her family were willing to come on board.
It involved a new course of treatment, and it was going to put both Tisha and her family through even more stress than they had already experienced. The plan required more aggressive medications, and more intense diagnostics and observation of Tisha's condition. There was no guarantee it would work, but they had hope.
A New Course of Action
And so the medical team assigned to Tisha set about administering her new treatment. All at once, Kertease and her grandchildren's lives seemed to be put on pause. The last three months had been so intense, but now her daughter had a chance at salvation. And they had to play the waiting game to see what was going to happen.
So for four long months, the new plan continued, and Kartease was given little to no updates on her daughter's condition. The team at the Wexner Medical Center tried to soothe her worries, but the distraught woman was understandably difficult to console. That is until she received the call that changed everything.
It was the second phone call in seven months that had changed her life from the moment she picked up the phone. At 5:10 am, April 7, 2019, Kertease was jolted awake from sleep. She had set her ringtone as high as possible so she wouldn't miss any incoming calls, and it was blaring on her nightstand.
She answered the phone, confused and slightly groggy. It was one of the doctors from the medical center - they had news. For a second, her heart stopped. And then, "he said, 'Well, she's woke up,'" Kertease recalled. "Oh my goodness, we jumped up and down and screamed and nobody slept that morning."
Racing to Her Daughter
Dr. Mainali could still recall that morning with ease. "One of my residents who was on call at night texted me in the morning and says, 'You won't believe what I saw today,' and I was like, 'What happened?' and she said, 'Tisha is opening her eyes and she's following simple commands.'"
The news was shocking to the doctor, but she also felt a wave of relief. They had been working so hard on the case, and the knowledge that they'd made such a breakthrough was more than any doctor could ask for. Even thinking about it months later, Dr. Mainali still felt emotional. But there was something else that had to be done.
Breaking the News
Yes, it was a wonderful moment. But it also put the doctors and nurses in a strange position. After all, Tisha had just spent seven months completely unconscious, and unaware of what was happening to her and her family. And now the hospital staff had to fill her in on everything she missed.
Tisha remembered those first moments perfectly. "The nurse came into the room and "she was like, 'Yeah, Ms. Brabson, you've been asleep for seven months,'" Tisha recalled. "I was shocked and just appalled that I literally had been asleep for seven months and then I just woke up out of nowhere."
Needing Her Mom
After everything had been explained, Trisha immediately thought of her mother. "I was like, 'Does my mom know?'" Tisha recalled of the questions she asked. The amused nurses assured her that yes, Kertease knew everything, and if it hadn't been for her other she likely wouldn't be awake right now.
Speaking of Kertease, Tisha's mother was on the road at that very moment, desperate to see her daughter. She had spent so long fighting for Tisha, the idea that she was about to see her, alive, well, and talking, almost didn't seem possible. But little did she know, she was about to face something even more unlikely.
She Didn’t Recognize Her
As Kertease walked through the hallways of the hospital, she began to think of the last seven months and everything she had grown used to. It was all over now, surely. Her daughter was alive and well, and they could return to normal life once again. Except that wasn't the case... at all.
Because when Kertease walked into her daughter's hospital room, Tisha looked up and said something devastating. "She said, ‘You're not my mother,'" Kertease remembered soberly. The truth of Tisha's condition, even while awake, was not so simple. She was still a long way from recovery.
A Blank Slate
And so she stayed in the Wexner Medical Center for four more months. Before she could be discharged she had to be carefully monitored to ensure that her recovery was going smoothly, with no fear of relapse. But in August 2019, she was finally released from the hospital.
Things were certainly looking up, though there was no guarantee that her life would go back to the way it was. "I am quite hopeful in her case that she's going to continue to do well and hopefully live a normal life," Dr. Mainali told one interviewer about the fascinating medical case. But how did a normal life look for Tisha?
"It's a Miracle"
Well, she was still figuring that out. After nearly a year in hospital, she was close to a full recovery and had been enjoying spending time with her young children. But she also spent much of her time acutely aware that she dodged an enormous bullet. "it's a miracle that I'm here," she said.
And the experience had given her a whole new lease on life. She couldn't be more grateful for the team of specialists who pulled her through. And of course, she owed it all to her mother. Kertease and Tisha are living proof that it is worth pushing forward for the people you love, even when others tell you it is hopeless.