No, Stephen King didn’t release a new book, but one woman has gone through something straight out of a horror movie. A Ph.D student from Indiana named Yamini Karanam thought she had a brain tumor — until surgeons operated on her and removed a bundle of hair, teeth and bones from a tiny space in her brain. A benign tumor might have been slightly less unsettling, but it wouldn’t make for such a great story.
Believe it or not, there is actually a medical basis for this discovery, though not a very solid one. People are calling the cluster an “evil twin,” but it’s technically called a teratoma. Side note — don’t Google image search “teratoma” unless you enjoy throwing up. Doctors don’t really know why teratomas exist or how they end up in people’s bodies, but the most widely accepted hypothesis is that the teratoma is actually an underdeveloped twin absorbed by the surviving fetus in utero (hence the previous comparison to an evil twin). As bad as this sounds, just think: it could have been an alien.
Now for the super science-y part. The doctors Karanam initially met with couldn’t agree on what on should be done with her “tumor,” so Karanam had to fly to Los Angeles to undergo a new type of surgery for the teratoma’s removal. The surgery involved the doctor making a small incision in the back of Karanam’s head, and then snaking an endoscope through the brain’s natural channels until they found the teratoma. It’s really a captivating story from start to finish. I’m sure the same procedure will show up on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” next season.
In case you wanted to go all “WebMD” and self-diagnose your possible teratoma: Karanam’s symptoms included headaches, impaired reading and oral comprehension, and excessive sleeping. Unfortunately, those are also the symptoms of being a student, so self-diagnose wisely.
Now that you’re thoroughly paranoid, you should know that teratomas don’t always manifest themselves early on. Karanam was 26 when she had hers removed. The teratoma was most likely in her brain all her life without her knowing. So for all of you only-children out there, don’t feel too lonely — you might have a sibling inside of you without even knowing it.
Another teratoma case occurred in 2009 when an English man pushed a teratoma out of his abdomen. The man joked that he had given birth, and to make the situation even creepier, named the little fetal lump “Little Gav.” It just goes to show that this can happen to men too — nobody’s safe from the terror of teratomas.
If any of you do end up having a teratoma, take my advice — write a story about it and sell it to a production company for millions of dollars. That should cover all of your medical expenses and the vacation you’ll need to help forget that you had a fetal twin trapped inside of your body for a few decades. Just remember to compensate your favorite blogger who gave you the idea in the first place.