The hit series Grey’s Anatomy may be fiction, but it solved her medical mystery for a 22-year-old.
Emilie Levy from Israel has suffered from inexplicable pain in her wrists and ankles since she was 12 years old. As a teenager, she also suffered from dislocations in her shoulder, hip and jaw – but the doctors were at a loss.
But one day, while watching Shonda Rhimes’ show, she recognized her on-screen symptoms.
“I was reviewing Season 13 and something struck me,” Levy told NeedToKnow.online. “There was one patient who complained of a hangover after just one drink, and then they easily dislocated her entire arm during the exam.”
She recalled that “just a small amount” of alcohol “gave her a hangover almost immediately,” though until now she never knew why.
“After seeing them dislocate their shoulder, I remember thinking it reminded me exactly of myself,” Levy continued.
The woman on screen was eventually diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that cause overly flexible joints and stretchy and brittle skin.
But even after she spotted all the signs on TV, doctors told her she was wrong, blaming hypermobility syndrome for the dislocations.
Eventually she sought a second option and in 2019 she was finally diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
But despite the diagnosis, her problems were far from solved. In September 2020, Levy was involved in a car accident and dislocated her ribs after another driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into her vehicle. Just six months later, her thoracic region and rib cage were dislocated as a result.
“It was like a domino, from the moment the first rib was dislocated, the deterioration was so rapid that it got worse by the day,” she said.
If she bent, drove, or sat, lifted things, coughed, or even breathed for more than 30 minutes, she would dislocate herself. She even woke up from her sleep every 10 minutes to get her ribs back in place.
“I got to a point where I told my parents that I couldn’t imagine living like this, with incredible pain, not even for two more months,” she recalls.
Though there’s no cure for Ehlers-Danlos, Levy took her health in hand again and searched “rib slip syndrome treatment” online.
“It was the first time I’ve encountered someone who explained exactly what I’d been complaining about all these months,” she said.
Crying, she sat down with her parents to watch the clip she discovered, eventually flying to Florida two months later for treatment.
“I flew to his clinic for three months to undergo major treatment that eventually resulted in a tremendous improvement in my function where I stopped dislocating,” she said of the life-changing process.
Due to her ongoing health complications, Levy was inspired to become a doctor and finally achieved her goal in February 2022 when she, along with surgeon Dr. Yeshaiau Benedict opened a medical clinic in Israel.
“The clinic focuses on prolotherapy, a regenerative form of treatment that can significantly improve the lives of Ehlers-Danlos patients and many other orthopedic injuries and pains, including various sports injuries,” she said.
With the help of Benedict, whom she called an “excellent and exceptional orthopedist,” Levy is now trying to help “as many people as possible.”
“Emilie is only a 22-year-old woman, but she’s come a long way in her fairly short life — she’s a smart, stubborn, intelligent woman,” Benedict said of Levy, who will need her own prolotherapy treatments for the rest of her life. “She’s pursuing her goals in life and she doesn’t like them [anyone to] stop them.”
“I am grateful for the privilege that has come my way and for helping people come back into their lives and heal their pain,” she said.