CHESAPEAKE, Va. - At first glance Lauren Johnson is your typical 12-year-old. She loves animals, especially her dog, Bo, but sit with Lauren for more than two seconds and you quickly learn she's unique.
"I can't stop sneezing. It goes off about eight to nine times a minute," says Lauren sneezing twice in seven seconds.
On a regular day the 6th grader can sneeze more than 12,000 times. It all started roughly two weeks ago when Lauren caught a cold.
"It was different and I just kind of went with it thinking that it wouldn't last this long, but it's been two weeks now and it just hasn't stopped," said Lauren sneezing six times in the 17 seconds it took for her to say that.
"I know she's miserable. I know this is terrible for her," said Lauren's mother Lynn.
Lynn Johnson's heart breaks every time she hears her daughter sneeze, because after visiting six different doctors and taking 11 different medications, the diagnosis is the same.
The Johnsons even took Lauren to visit Hope Damon in Virginia Beach, who specializes is psychotherapy and hypnosis.
"My place is just to help destress the family and guide them through the medical and mental health parts of this," said Damon.
Tuesday morning Lynn took Lauren to a Neurologist who told them he believes Lauren could suffer from an "irretractable psychogenic disorder." Lynn says they were told it could be triggered by stress, kind of like the brain "misfiring signals."
However, Lynn says Lauren has been sent to psychotherapists like Damon who, "send us back to the medical practitioners because they say Lauren is a well rounded girl. There's been no stressors in her life. There's been nothing, she's not an attention getter."
If Lauren does have an irretractable psychogenic disorder, her family is a bit concerned.
"There's less than 40 cases ever documented ever in the entire world. Nobody really knows how to treat it, what's going to work, and even in the cases where it might have worked or turned the sneezing off for awhile, a lot of times it comes back again and then you're right back to where you started," says Lynn.
As for Lauren, she wants to get back to school. Her constant sneezing forced her family to keep her home for the past two weeks.
"I've had to have homework sent here and I've started having teachers sent here to help me with it," said Lauren.
There is only one time a day that Lauren doesn't sneeze.
"It turns off when she sleeps. Only in a deep REM sleep it turns off," said Lynn.
The most amazing thing is that Lauren learned to adapt. She says sometimes she has no clue she's even sneezing, but still, all she wants is to be a normal 12-year-old again.
"I just wish the sneezing would stop. I mean I feel fine now, but it's just the sneezing going on, and on, and on, and I can't really do anything," said Lauren sneezing 5 times in 15 seconds.
UPDATE - Tuesday morning a neurologist told the family Lauren's condition could be "irretractable psychogenic disorder" - triggered by stress. The condition is rare, and treatment options have not always proven successful. The Johnson family will appear on NBC's Today Show Wednesday morning.
Holy shit this would suck. I don't know what's worse, this girl who sneezes 12000 times a day or that one girl who's had the hiccups for like 4 years now. Or maybe this girl is faking it like that weirdo who claimed the flu shot made her walk it out. Or maybe she developed some kind of Tourette's syndrome tic