Very rare neurological disease

The mayor of my small suburb died two days of what was described as a very rare neurological disease, but not named. Now I saw and had a lively conversation with her the day last Nov. she was reelected and she seemed fine. Between then and March she lost 35 pounds (she was not heavy to begin with) and suffered increasing dizzy attacks and fainting and then went into the hospital from which she didn’t emerge.

Does any doper have any idea what disease could cause these symptoms? Apparently the descent was extremely rapid.

No guesses . . . yet.

First, did she develop any cognitive impairment? Do you have any other information (especially any other symptoms)?

AFAIK, no cognitive impairment. In March, she chose whom to have as acting mayor. An election was scheduled for Nov., but when the nominations ended, he was the only candidate and has now been sworn in as mayor.

But she certainly knew whom she wanted. In an interview yesterday morning, he mentioned that she had recruited him to run for council. So I think she kept all her marbles till the end.

She was the most honest politician I have ever known or known of. Only 66.

Is this she? She certainly does sound like an extraordinary person!

Yes, it is.

As we have all learned over the past few years, the first thing you need to do in order to determine what rare disease someone is suffering from is to break into their home and search it.

Otherwise, and especially without knowing the detailed symptoms, you are pretty much screwed.

According to news accounts, Vera Danyluk had had symptoms including fatigue, dizziness and weight loss for 18 months prior to her hospitalization in April of 2010. By early June she took leave from her office; she died around the middle of October–a total course of clinical illness of about 2 years.

I would not be inclined to describe that as a “rapid descent” but of course such a description is extremely subjective.

These are very non-specific details, insufficient to speculate accurately. Because she was referred to a “Neurological” hospital for further evaluation, perhaps the primary pathology was neurologic, but perhaps not; she died in the General Hospital. As to what constitutes “rare,” well that can be anything from truly infrequent conditions to unusual variations of ordinary conditions.

Also note that the RND (rare neurological disease) mention did not come from a doctor, but the family’s letter, so that may or may not be accurate.

Well, obviously there’s not enough information available to establish a specific diagnosis, nor is there really even enough to generate an appropriate list of diagnostic possibilities (i.e. a differential diagnosis). But that’s not gonna stop me!

Although her neurologic disease per se may have led to the profound weight loss, and even her death, another possibility is that she had a more common disease (cancer) but developed a rare complication of it (paraneoplastic syndrome). The underlying cancer would explain the weight loss and (relatively rapid) death, and the paraneoplastic syndrome her neurological symptoms.

Here is the Wiki overview of paraneoplastic syndromes in general, and its rather meager subsection on the neurologic ones specifically.

And here is a more advanced treatment of paraneoplatic syndromes affecting the brain and central nervous system (pdf).

Although none of this is likely relevant to her illness, I thought that people might be interested to learn about the concept of paraneoplastic syndromes. In my experience, virtually no lay people have been aware of the entity.

Thanks for the replies, even if it is just as mysterious as before. As for 18 months, well I spoke to her briefly last November and she seemed fine. I spoke to her at some length a couple months earlier too.

Also you need to suggest a couple of diagnoses, and have the patient refute them by way of a seizure / haemorrhage / something else that makes the machines beep.
But as the patient here is dead, we can’t got through the textbook process.

IANA neurologist, though I like to pretend to be one by virtue of my Master’s.

It’s pretty tough to diagnose purely from the OP. For one thing, a condition described as rare may just mean a rare sub-type of a common condition. So it doesn’t really rule out anything.

From the OP it sounds like a progressive disease, with an extremely fast progression… My WAG would be an infection, like TB.
(And given the House theme, it’s interesting to note that lupus seems to fit the OP too :))

If you would like a guess I would suggest rapid onset of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I had a friend go very quickly from ALS. Mean survival times are 3 to 5 years, my friend went from one of the most robust guys I have ever known, to death in about 18 months.