Twins Sara and Amanda have suffered from extreme obsessive compulsive disorder for their entire lives – washing their hands raw, taking 10-hour showers, and prevented from working or leaving their home.
Three years ago, they had life-changing deep-brain stimulation (DBS) surgery -- steel wires were implanted in their brains, and constant electrical stimulation is supplied to their brains by battery packs implanted under their pectoral muscles. “It’s basically like a little cloud of electricity that just pulses through your brain constantly,” explains Sara.
The twins’ Neurosurgeon, Dr. David Vansickle, tells The Doctors why DBS works: “The stimulation inhibits the nucleus accumbens to ramp down the anxiety.”
It was an extreme solution, but it has helped. The twins were on the verge of suicide before their surgery, and now, says, Sara, they “have a life.” “We actually leave the house, we have friends, we go to concerts, we do things, we have a future,” adds Amanda.
“I’m really proud of you two for how you’ve come,” says ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. But the twins still have another challenge to face. Most of their symptoms are better, but they haven’t been apart since they were 15 years old. They do everything together and are terrified by the prospect of separation.
“We’ve always had so many other problems,” says Amanda, that they haven’t focused on learning to be independent.
Life Strategist Gary Coxe joins the twins to help them break through their codependency. They are both afraid, not just that something bad might happen while they’re apart, but something good. Neither twin wants to feel guilty because her sister was left out.
Gary takes the twins to The Spa on Rodeo for luxurious spa treatments – one at a time. Amanda and Sara both find it very hard, but admit that the treatments are enjoyable!
But the challenge isn’t over. Gary asks the twins to spend the night in separate hotels. They are surprised and anxious at the prospect. “It’s a lot of steps in one day,” says Amanda. Sara agrees, “It does sound very terrifying.” But they agree to do it.
Both twins record videos at the hotels, saying how stressed and lonely they are. However, they admit to Gary that they both survived.
Amanda even found a positive in the experience. “I did kind of like the contrast of, this is what it’s like to be alone, and this is what it’s like to be back with my sister and friends. I like having two things to compare,” she admits.
The girls still have a long way to go, but they don’t have to do it all alone. Gary has taught the twins a four-step process to change their thinking and behavior, “And they’ve done phenomenal with it.” Now it’s time for them to put into action in their daily lives. Sara is eager to change: “I’m looking forward to having a less complicated life!”