A woman who hallucinated the Mexican Cartel were hunting her was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia before doctors realised she had a rare and deadly immune disease.
Samantha Redfield, of Angels Camp, California, suddenly began experiencing strange symptoms over a two week period in October 2019.
She was rushed to hospital when she suffered a seizure, and over the next few days, began to hallucinate her sisters were dead and sob uncontrollably.
When brain scans and blood tests showed nothing was wrong, 30-year-old Mrs Redfield was referred to a psychiatrist with suspected schizophrenia, by which point she hadn't slept for ten days.
But the psychiatrist said there was something more sinister going on. She told Mrs Redfield's family to take her straight back to A&E.
After taking fluid from Mrs Redfield's spine, the doctors were able to diagnose autoimmune encephalitis, which causes the body's immune system to attack healthy brain cells. Inflammation and swelling lead to symptoms similar to psychosis.
Mrs Redfield was kept in hospital for two weeks while having treatment which filters the blood and removes harmful antibodies. She has almost fully recovered.
Samantha Redfield, of Angels Camp, California, was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia before doctors realised she had a life-threatening disease
Mrs Redfield was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis after more tests. She spent two weeks in hospital recovering (pictured)
Mrs Redfield believed that her two sisters, Katie, 29 (pictured), and Danielle, 20, had died and that the Mexican Cartel were hunting her and waiting outside her house
Speaking about her hallucinations, Mrs Redfield said: 'The hallucinations that I do somewhat remember were thinking I lost loved ones, I remember sobbing thinking two of my sisters had died.
'I also remember bits and pieces of being incredibly scared that the Mexican Cartel was hunting me, that they were outside our home. I remember very little.
'There is what I believe a good two weeks where I remember nothing. I would be extremely happy one moment and a wreck the next.
'I had trouble speaking, I couldn't write or read. I was told I stayed awake for ten days straight.
'To simply put it, my body was attacking my brain and my body was fighting for its life.'
Mrs Redfield suddenly started to experience symptoms of stiffness and numbness in her right hand in October 2019.
Over two weeks, the numbness Mrs Redfield was feeling spread to her upper right lip and she struggled to feed herself with a fork without dropping it.
She said: 'I knew something was wrong, I quickly became anxious and worried. These symptoms came on quickly over a two-week period just prior to my first seizure.
Mrs Redfield was kept in hospital for two weeks while having treatment which replaces her blood with new blood. She is pictured in hospital
Mrs Redfield was first rushed to hospital when she suffered a seizure. Her bruised tongue is pictured after one of her seizures
From speaking to her family and her husband, Codey, 40, Mrs Redfield knew that she started to hallucinate. She said: 'There is what I believe a good two weeks where I remember nothing. I would be extremely happy one moment and a wreck the next'
Autoimmune encephalitis is a serious medical condition in which the immune system attacks the brain, impairing function.
It caused by a problem with the immune system (the body's natural defence against infection).
The immune system mistakes healthy tissue in the brain as a threat and attacks it, causing the brain to become inflamed and swell.
The body produces antibodies which attack the NMDA receptors in the brain, which are proteins that cause electrical impulses.
Their functioning is necessary for judgement, perception of reality, human interaction, memory, and the control of unconscious activities such as breathing and swallowing.
It's not always clear why the immune system malfunctions in this way.
Some cases of autoimmune encephalitis are caused by the immune system reacting to the presence of a tumour (an abnormal growth) inside the body.
The main symptoms are flu like, but people also develop memory loss, difficulty sleeping, and may become unable to communicate or speak coherently.
They might become confused, have hallucinations or exhibit strange behaviour.
Other symptoms include seizures, loss of consciousness and movement disorders.
Source: The Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis Foundation
'I remember being at a restaurant with my dad and telling him to watch this - I could feel when my hand was about to seize up - I picked up the fork with food on it and before I brought it to my mouth, my hand gave away, dropping the fork and food hit the table, we weren't sure what to think.
'These symptoms continued to escalate and a week after the fork incident I had my seizure.
'We would eventually find out these symptoms on the right side of my body were caused by swelling in the left side of my brain.'
Mrs Redfield was rushed to A&E on October 25 following her first seizure, when she also broke her ankle. A doctor ordered blood tests and MRI scans, which all came back clear.
'To have them come back clear was honestly scary as it left us with no answers as to what had caused the seizure,' Mrs Redfield said.
'Unfortunately, the days following with additional MRIs, EEGs and blood work were a blur. My health quickly started to deteriorate and do not remember much or if any of these tests.'
After being discharged from the hospital and given the all clear, Mrs Redfield can't fully remember what happened to her as her health rapidly declined.
From speaking to her family and her husband, Codey, 40, Mrs Redfield knew that she started to hallucinate.
She believed that her two sisters, Katie, 29, and Danielle, 20, had died and that the Mexican Cartel were hunting her and waiting outside her house.
On November 5, Mrs Redfield's family took her back to the neurologist who misdiagnosed her with