Jo Cameron has lived decades without feeling any pain. She never knew why, or even that it was unusual — until now.
The 71-year-old woman, who also feels no anxiety or fear, has an extremely rare genetic mutation. Doctors discovered the mutation only a few years ago. They believe it’s the explanation for her lack of pain.
According to the Guardian, the former teacher experienced an array of ordinarily painful ailments throughout her life, including broken bones, cuts, burns, numerous surgeries, and even childbirth. Throughout all this, she needed little or no pain relief.
Doctors only realized something was off when an X-ray revealed “massive deterioration” of Jo’s hip joint. She’d had hip problems affecting her movement for years, but she was repeatedly turned away because she didn’t report being in any pain. In reality, her condition was quite severe — she just couldn’t feel the pain associated with it.
After her hip replacement surgery, doctors also realized she would need to undergo a notoriously painful hand surgery. When she opted out of painkillers, saying that she’d never needed them before, her baffled medical team decided to investigate further.
Jo was referred to pain specialists. Genetic testing uncovered the two genetic mutations that they think allow for her to feel virtually no anxiety, stress, or pain.
“I was quite amused when I found out,” she said. “And then they told me about these other things, the happiness and the forgetfulness. I’m always forgetting things; I always have done. It’s good in lots of ways but not in others. I don’t get the alarm system everyone else gets.”
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