A Florida teenager with dreams of becoming a physician is struggling with an unusual condition that’s triggering him to sleep through many of life’s biggest events.
“When it comes to relationships with friends, family, school is a big one: I lose everything when I’m in an episode,” Michael Hamper, a senior at Palm Beach Gardens’ High who was diagnosed with Kleine-Levin syndrome, sometimes referred to as “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome.
Hamper’s episodes can last for as much as three weeks and need 24/7 care. He said he is confused throughout the lead-up to an episode and can be heard babbling.
He generally has a two-week period of symptom-free living before the confusion, disorientation and frustrating fatigue begins again.
“It’s a crushing blow to me as a dad to see my son go through this, knowing how smart he is,” Chris Hamper, the teen’s father, who is also a physician, told Fox 47.
Hamper was 14 when he started experiencing signs that physicians misinterpreted for viral infections, depression or eating disorders. His father believed that a neurological concern was causing his son to sleep up to 20 hours per day and struggle to complete basic jobs.
The concerned family traveled to Boston Children’s Hospital, where a physician observed Hamper walk to the buffet and binge-eat pasta with both hands. Quickly thereafter, medical professionals validated Hamper’s medical diagnosis.
“I balled my eyes out. Not because I have this disorder, but because I had an answer.”
While there is no cure for the disease, the Hampers do not want Michael’s life to be defined by the episodes.
Chris has begun to find out more about the illness and has started seeing patients with comparable symptoms from around the state.