The girl who feels no pain.

Meet Gabby Gingras, a three-year-old little girl born with a disease so rare that only 12 people in the world are known to have it. She suffers from Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy Type-5, though perhaps suffering is an odd word to use in this case as the problem is she can’t feel pain. Or at least, not physical pain. – The Girl Who Feels No Pain

“Little tiny nerve fibers, the smallest of the nerve fibers, that are supposed to record pain, send that signal to the brain, so you can interpret what it is. Those fibers are not working,” Smith says.

  So often we think of pain in a negative way. But it is pain, that protects us.

  Because Gabby feels no pain, she no longer has any teeth.

  “Didn’t hurt her at all getting a tooth ripped out,” Steve Gingras says.

  The teeth she didn’t break off while biting toys were removed by an oral surgeon after Gabby chewed up her mouth and tongue so badly she had to be hospitalized.

  “Pain is the protective mechanism, and she doesn’t have that,” Dr. Smith says.

  Gabby didn’t have pain to save her eyes either. She scratched them so severely, that at one point doctors sewed them shut to keep her fingers out. But, the damage was already done.

  Last week Gabby’s family was at Fairview University Medical Center to discuss the removal of her left eye, now swollen and blind from glaucoma brought on by the scratching.

  The vision in Gabby’s scratched right eye, her good eye, has been measured at 20-300.

  “There are days where you look at (baby) pictures and you see those bright eyes … and you wish you knew then what you know now. We wish we’d have thought of the idea a little bit sooner for the goggles,” Trish says.

Most of us could probably use a little less physical pain in our day-to-day lives and probably regard pain as a negative thing, but it’s a negative that plays an important role in our survival. In addition to the problems with her teeth and eyes a year ago Gabby broke her jaw and no one knew it for over a month and she once stood in front of a steam humidifier that left her with second degree burns. Pain is our body’s way of telling us it’s being damaged and without it we’re left vulnerable to all manner of injuries that could be life threatening if you’re not able to perceive the damage done.

8 thoughts on “The girl who feels no pain.

  1. Seriously frightening and depressing all at the same time.  Another reason for the con side of whether or not to have children.

  2. I cannot even begin to think what this means for this girl psychologically when she grows into adulthood.  Or, for that matter, will she even make it that long.  Frightening.

  3. Well Etherian, according to the article at least, the little girl has a pretty positive attitude all things considered. Not having known life any other way I’d imagine she’ll probably be able to adjust to it without too much trouble as long as she has the love and support of her family and friends. I’d guess it’d be a bit like being born blind or deaf and not really knowing what you’re missing from a psychological standpoint. As she gets older and her understanding grows she should be able to adapt to her condition for the most part. She’ll still be at a serious disadvantage, but certainly no worse than anyone with a more traditional disability.

  4. How very sad. With all my aches and pains, here is someone who because she feels none, has done irreversible harm without even knowing it.
    I wish her well.

  5. Well this is a very unfortinate thing for Gabby to be faced with. I am a personal friend of the Gingras family and I was able to spend some time with Gabby. Gabby is a fun one to be around, she is very outgoing and strong willed. It is also unfortinate to also hear that people with this disorder do not live to adult-hood because of some type of injury. Also it is too bad that she is almost blind. The news story is so moving that many people that don’t know who Gabby is, has had a tear in their eye’s, so if you have a extra 8 minutes I would go to the link and watch the story. Also I used to think that my life was rough until I met this family and now I take what I have for granted dis-reguarding my terrets disease. Also you will be seeing more storys about Gabby cause Gabby’s dad, Steve, has been getting many phone calls from reporters all around the world

  6. Well I read that Gabby’s family met another family whose daughter has this disease. I am glad they have that support and the comfort of knowing they are not alone. Also - This girl’s experience and advice will help Gabby and her family prepare for whats ahead. These are the only 2 known cases of this disorder in the US I beleive. This story really makes you stop and appreciate your health, huh? I wish her well …….
    P.S. I am writing an essay about her condition if anyone has any info it would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Two weeks ago I stepped on a nail. My first reaction was OUCH, then DAMN, then I remembered my foster daughter’s brother who had no pain feelings in his feet and had to wear white socks to see if he had punctured his foot that day. I understand many diabetics have similar problems with their extremities. What a benefit it is to have pain in our lives!

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