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PANDAS. (WA1 (2))

Like, let’s go back to being an 8-year-old.

Now let’s make a list of things we remember caring about at that time in our lives (lists may vary…but, let’s be honest, probably not much).

  • My barbie collection
  • My barbie jeep
  • My barbie dreamhouse
  • Lucky Charms cereal
  • Tormenting my younger brother
  • Playing dress up
  • Not getting a “color change” in school for bad behavior…I would say that about covered it for me. What about you?

    At least, that’s what I cared about until one day– one day when everything in my world drastically changed– the day my journey with PANDAS began.

    While everyone else my age carried on with their dolls, tonka toys,  and educations, I was down and out with an autoimmune disorder that stole five years of my childhood, yet provided me perspective for a lifetime.


    I was diagnosed with PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) in 1999.

    PANDAS entails a rapid onset of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) caused by group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal infections (GABHS).

    In other words, my body showed no symptoms of a strep infection, when I did contract strep.

    Eventually, an autoimmune reaction ensued as my body attacked itself, producing antibodies that interfered with the basal ganglia function of my brain.

    Scary STUFF.

    Not to mention, doctors were very unfamiliar with PANDAS back then and I ended up bouncing around from hospital to hospital, state-to-state, and doctor-to-doctor, before it was finally determined that my condition was this rare autoimmune disorder.

    Now, let’s jump back to adulthood.  At 21, I often times feel that I intentionally suppress the memories that accompanied this particular period of my life…

    I mean who wants to dwell on something they remember as totally traumatic or devastating moment in their life? 

    I guess, in a way, it makes sense that we fear remembering the horrible feelings felt during those moments in our lives. 

    But, surprisingly I find that in recalling this time of my life now, I seem to only be able to remember the good things.

    Sometimes…I just feel like we need to let ourselves be human.  It’s raw. It’s powerful. And it’s what we are.

    Watch the video below on Susan Swedo and the NIMH research protocol for PANDAS that I took part in during the time of my illness.


About Nico

She is Nico. Nicolette Joscelyn Zulli is a singer, songwriter, and fledgling producer. At 19 years old, she is gifted with a unique and powerful vocal talent possessing a range that exudes star quality. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Nico grew up in Houston, Texas. Her parents hail from the great City of New Orleans where she has spent lots of time exploring the musical haunts and talents of the Big Easy. Nico grew up listening to the voices of Eva Cassidy, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Linda Eder, Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Aaron Neville, Harry Connick, Jr., Vivian Green, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross, whose musical talents greatly influence her eclectic vocal style. Nico recently graduated from Houston Christian High School, a private college preparatory school, where she was an honor student and secretary of the National Honor Society, President of Water for Life, a campus-wide charitable outreach program, member of the girls’ varsity volleyball team, and President of the school’s 125-member choir. Nico has performed in public since the early age of 7 years old when she sang the Star Spangled Banner at a Houston Hot Shots Professional Soccer Game at the Houston Astro Arena (Reliant Arena) and received a standing ovation from thousands of roaring fans. Her name in lights flashed across the score board,and a star was born! She is a paid performer at local Houston restaurants which feature dinner jazz music, corporate functions, charity functions, private parties, churches, and schools. She has worked with several local producers, including the Grammy award winning producer for Beyonce’s “Dangerously in Love”, Errol “E-Poppi” McCalla. She is currently working with one of H-town's hottest producers, Tahl Cole, and looks forward to continuing her trek in the world of music with a career in the industry. She currently attends Baylor University in Waco, Texas as a double major in Journalism News Editorial and Communication Specialist with a minor in Spanish. Post-undergraduate, she intends to pursue a degree in Entertainment Law.

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