Real life Sleeping Beauty: Teenager with rare condition snoozes for 12 days at a time
Shannon suffers a sleeping episode around once a month
12:54 GMT, 18 July 2012
Costly: Shannon had a sleepy episode during her GCSEs which meant she failed some exams
A teenager has missed birthdays, Christmases, and family holidays – because she has Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.
Shannon Magee can sometimes take 12 days to wake up and will gorge on sweets and chocolate without knowing what she is doing.
For five years, the 17-year-old from Bolton, Greater Manchester, has suffered from Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) – a complex neurological disorder.
She needs excessive amounts of rest as a result and even slept through her GCSE exams.
Only 45 people in the UK have been diagnosed with the condition.
Shannon, who has two brothers and three sisters, said the condition has changed her life.
She said: 'It is like being awake in a coma. It takes part of your life away with it. It's like I'm in my own little world and I don't recognise people.'
Shannon has episodes each month, which usually last about 12 days, during which time she can sleep for about 22 hours per day.
When she is awake, her behaviour changes as she can become aggressive and demands sweets and chocolate, and needs around-the-clock care from her parents. It also affects her memory, and she says huge chunks of her teenage years are blank.
Shannon said: 'I struggled through secondary school, and the teachers didn't believe what was happening to me.
Shannon wants to train to become a nurse but is worried about how her condition could affect her job
'I didn't really like to tell anyone
at school, so I drifted away from a lot of people and I failed some of
my GCSEs because I was in a sleepy episode.'
years of tests and examinations, Shannon was finally diagnosed with KLS
after her dad, Christopher Dodd, researched her symptoms online.
WHAT IS KLEINE-LEVIN SYNDROME
KLS is a neurological condition that starts during adolescence, and sometimes will begin after an infection or illness.
It is characterised by periods of excessive sleep of up to 20 hours a day. This symptom lasts between days and weeks. During such an episode a sufferer may be irritable, childish, disorientated and want to eat excessive amounts of food. Patients are fine between episodes.
Shannon is just one of 1,000 people worldwide to suffer from the disorder which is commonly known as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. 70% of sufferers are male.
There is no known cure for the sleeping disorder.
Her mother, Julie Ratcliffe, 56,
said: 'They were taking blood tests because they thought she was drunk
or on drugs, then they thought it was epilepsy.
'Even when we go to appointments and it is on her medical records, the doctors don't know what it is.
'When she is in an episode it can be very stressful and she can be very challenging.
'She has a vague expression on her face and I can get about 50 texts at work asking for things because she has forgotten she has already texted.'
She added: 'We feel better knowing it is not life-threatening, but there is not enough information, nobody knows the answers.'
The teenager now wants to become a nurse so she can help others but is worried her condition will get in the way.