The Story of the Girl Who Slept for Over 30 Years After Getting a Toothache
Imagine going to sleep and waking up many years later. Sounds like something out of a fairy tale. But this happened to a teenage girl who awoke to discover she had spent part of her life sleeping. Her amazing story left everyone perplexed and remains shrouded in mystery to this day.
Oknö’s sleeping beauty
Karolina Olsson was born in 1862 and led a quiet life with her four siblings on the island of Oknö, Sweden. However, her life and that of her family took a drastic turn after a fall. On her way home from school, she tripped and hit her head hard on the cold winter pavement.
After her injury had healed, the girl was already enjoying a bowl of soup, so everyone thought she had fully recovered. However, on that same February 22, 1876, things changed. Karolina, 14 years old at the time, complained of toothache. Her family believed it was the result of witchcraft and sent her to bed. Little did anyone know that she would wake up 32 years later.
A perplexing case
The doctor who arrived at the island spent several days examining the girl, but the case was puzzling. Unlike a typical coma after an accident, Karolina appeared to be dead but alive at the same time. What was surprising was that her hair and nails did not grow at all, and she did not lose weight.
In 1882, after six years, Karolina was transferred to the city of Oskarshamn for electroshock therapy treatment, which did not work. The doctors sent her home again and told her family they could only hope for a miracle. During the whole time she was asleep, she did not eat solid food but was given milk with sugar.
The diagnosis given by the hospital was that she was suffering from some kind of paralysis related to dementia. The curious thing about this case is that, despite her bodily condition, her mind was still active, as she could react to the environment. Her parents noticed this when, many years later, one of her brothers passed away. Although she was still in a state of deep sleep, Karolina was crying.
The day of the awakening
Finally, on April 3, 1908, a maid found Karolina as she was crawling on the floor. She was thin and pale, showed sensitivity to light, and found it somewhat difficult to speak. The news generated great excitement. Reporters, doctors, and onlookers went to Oknö to ask her about her experience, but when she woke up she said she remembered nothing of those 32 years.
To her, she was still a 14-year-old girl who had woken up overnight when, in fact, she was 46 years old. However, her appearance looked much younger, like someone between 25 and 30. She underwent psychiatric tests in Stockholm, where it was found that she retained all the faculties she had before she fell asleep.
Unraveling the mysteries
Nowadays, there are cases of people who spend most of their time sleeping. One example is Beth Goodier, who suffers from Kleine-Levin syndrome and only wakes up for a few hours between her sleeping periods, which last for months.
There is a theory that Karolina also had waking moments when she could talk and eat, although this cannot be confirmed with certainty. What we do know is that she lived without problems for another 40 years after waking up and was always kind and open with her community. We are glad her story had a happy ending.
The world is full of stories wrapped in great mysteries, such as the mystery of the missing plane in the Bermuda Triangle.