Jennifer Mee, a 15-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, has been struggling with living with persistent hiccups for months. She can hiccup up to 50 times a minute, and it has dramatically changed her life. She had to drop out of school and get a home tutor, she doesn’t go out much with her friends, and recently, she ran away. She was gone for 14 hours on Monday, staying with friends and wandering the streets until she was spotted two miles from her house and taken home at 9:30 that night. She had left over a disput about a MySpace page that her stepfather questioned her about, and they disconnected her cell phone service as punishment.

Mee’s hiccups had stopped for awhile but then started again and have been sporadic recently. It all started back on January 23 when she started hiccupping in her first period class. After 15 minutes, she was sent to the school’s medical clinic who tried to help her cure her condition for five hours. She has since seen several specialists including a disease specialist, a neurologist, a chiropractor, a hypnotist, and an acupuncturist to try to cure her. She has tried a special device and old remedies such as drinking water from the far side of the glass, holding her breath, sugar under her tongue, pickle juice, breathing into a paper bag, and being scared by shoppers at Wal-Mart, but nothing as worked. She has had blood tests, a CT scan, an MRI, and taken several medications. Now she just takes Valium and Benadryl to help her fall asleep. The hiccups stop when she is asleep but start right back up when she wakes up.

Hiccups have several causes. Up to 100 diseases have been said to cause the spasms. A regular bout can last up to two days, but after that, they are labeled persistent hiccups. The longest known case lasted 69 years and five months from Charles Osborne who lived into his 90s and hiccupped every 1 ½ seconds. Hiccups, involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, have a variety of causes ranging from sudden excitement or stress to eating too much too fast.

It is no wonder why this girl ran away. She has been sought after for dozens of media interviews, can’t go to school, and sometimes even has suicidal thoughts. Her disappearance and return was passed off as a hormonal teenage episode, and even though a person can suffer from much worse conditions, Mee’s life is no picnic at the moment.

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