See the Happy

Complicated Migraine-that’s all it was?

Last week I had a good scare with my 12 year old son. I want to share our experience in hope that it might help someone out there.  After all we went through, I found out that it is a fairly common thing, even though the doctors seemed baffled.

My 12 year old son, Tucker, called me from school crying, saying he was sick. Tucker is usually pretty tough when he isn’t feeling well so the fact that he was crying, I knew it was something so I didn’t question him. I am glad he called me when he did, because I was getting ready to head over to the elementary to help with my 9 year old’s class.  I went immediately to get him.  As we walked to the car and drove home, I asked him how he was feeling sick.  He couldn’t really tell me, he seemed to be trying to explain something but ended up saying, “I don’t know.”  I tried to ask when he started feeling yucky, he cried and said, “I don’t know”.  I tried talking him through his schedule of the day.  “First you went to advisory, you felt fine there?..then band?  you felt ok?…then what was next?”  he could say P.E. but couldn’t say what they did in P.E.  As I was asking questions, I noticed that he had a scratch on the side of his face near the temple, kind of a chunk of skin scratched off likely from a finger nail.  I imagined them playing basket ball and maybe someone came down on him and accidentally scratched him. I wondered if whatever that was, it could be the cause of him not feeling good.  I asked what they did in P.E. and he couldn’t tell me.  He would start to explain something but couldn’t even spit out the whole word, so I would try and guess the word and he would cry and say,” I don’t know.”

Now you have to understand that my Tucker has a rough time expressing himself with words, explaining things or even describing things.  He often has a hard time spitting out what he wants to say. So I tried to help him find the words, having a weird feeling along the way, “is this just Tucker, or is there something wrong?”  By the time we got home I continued to try and help him explain and talk through it, my husband was working from home that day and was there as well, trying to help him articulate how he was feeling.  My husband and I looked at each other like, “this seems like more than just him not being able to come up with the right words”,  because he couldn’t answer even the most simple questions.  Tucker was wiping his nose with a tissue and went to throw it away in the garbage and he began to sway, as if he were dizzy.  He was crying still and I handed him another tissue, he couldn’t grab it. It was like it was difficult for him to make his arm work.  My husband suggested that he lay down for a minute until he could calm down and stop crying but when Tucker tried to walk, he began to collapse, as if his right leg wouldn’t work.  That’s when we decided something was very wrong and we needed to take him to the ER.  The next question was, do we call an ambulance or take him ourselves? Do we have time to get him to Primary Children’s? What may happen next???  These symptoms seemed to be stroke symptoms, can a child have a stroke??? We decided to run him to Riverton Hospital where there is a Primary Children’s extension and felt that hospital was closer.

As I was driving, I was so scared and I thought through scenarios in my mind, what if he has a seizure? What if he passes out and stops breathing? How would I react to these things? Thank goodness my husband dropped everything and came with us.  I wouldn’t have been able to handle things if something happened along the way, and probably would have caused an accident. I kept thinking of my sweet friend who just, a few days before, lost her husband to a heart attack, she had to do CPR on her husband till the ambulance came.  My heart went out to her and her family. And her strength gave me strength as I thought of all the possible outcomes.  What would I do if my son dies?  What if he has brain damage and this is how it is for the rest of his life?

We made it to the hospital without anything major happening.  He felt to throw up but we found a grocery sack in case he did throw up. The people at the ER were so nice and very quick to help.  Within minutes they had someone looking at him and took us back to a room.  I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even sign a readable signature.  I think I was in a little bit of shock.  The doctors asked him questions, took blood and did some simple initial tests before taking him to get a CT.  Tucker couldn’t squeeze the doctors hands. He couldn’t tell the doctor who Derrel and I were, he just tried to spit out our last name.  He did say his own name and last name.  He couldn’t tell them where the scratch on the side of his face came from either.

After every kind of test, CT scan, MRI/MRE, blood test, EKG etc. the doctor came in with Life Flight people and said that they wanted to fly him to Primary Children’s to see a neurologist.  The CT scan looked good and they would look at the MRI on the way to the other hospital.  But they just weren’t sure what was causing these symptoms and wanted Tucker to be where they could help him ASAP if needed.  They told us that they would likely keep him in the ICU at Primary Children’s over night for observation.  All this sounded so crazy and scary but I felt that Tucker was going to be fine at this point and we would take things one step at a time.  I didn’t even want to think of the bills that were quickly accruing. By this point, Tucker was able to tell us that the scratch on the side of his face came from helping to unload some boxes from a truck into the school, that he must have scratched himself as he was taking a box down off the truck.

While they had been doing all the testing I realized that Tucker’s friends at school probably didn’t know he went home sick and they would likely wait forever at their meeting spot for carpool.  I called my friend who had carpool that day and told her what was going on.  She let the boys know, and it all worked out.  Can I just say, that we have THE BEST tribe.  When I knew that we wouldn’t make it home for my little ones when they got home from school, I called that same friend and asked if my boys could come to her house since my 14 year old was leaving to babysitting for a neighbor before they would get home from school. She was happy to take them and I later learned that she had to change some things in her schedule to make it all work. Word spread quick that Tucker was in the hospital and friends and family were offering whatever they could do to help in any way.  Husband’s for blessings, homes for my kids to stay, food for dinner etc.  I LOVE MY PEOPLE!!  I was overwhelmed by all the help being offered.

Back to the hospital stuff: they said only one of us could fly with Tucker.  If you know my husband, you will know the reason I insisted he ride. My husband LOVES to fly, especially in smaller air crafts.  I knew he would appreciate it so much more than me, even if he was worried about our boy.  I watched them fly off, then had to run home to take care of some things there since we were told we would be spending the night in the ICU.  We were supposed to feed the missionaries dinner that night so I had to put the thawing chicken back in the freezer and call them to let them know we wouldn’t be home to feed them.  I told them to come get some money to go get Wendy’s but they wouldn’t take it:) Tucker was supposed to get braces in the morning so I had to cancel that as well.  I wanted to see how my daughter felt about either sleeping over at our friend’s house with the boys, or at another friend’s house, or if she would rather stay home and get off to school, in the morning, from there.

By the time I got it all figured out at home, another wonderful friend brought dinner and she had packaged it in a way that it was perfect for me to take to the hospital, so very grateful for that.  I headed up but as I was driving, my husband texted that he was talking to the neurologist.  The neurologist called it a “Complicated Migraine”. He asked Tucker many questions. He said that the arteries on the left side of Tucker’s brain are considerably smaller than those on the right.  The left side of the brain affects the right side of the body (which was going numb on Tucker) it also can affect the language or making coherent statements.  The doc said possible triggers could have been stress, trauma, or over exertion (Tucker, over exerted? Hmm, he is so active, it would take a lot to make him over exerted.  Later when Tucker could communicate I asked him if he was stressed about anything and he said no).  They gave Tucker some fluids through an IV then released him, saying he could go to school in the morning if he felt up to it. Of course he didn’t go, he was pretty tired, and who would go to school if they didn’t have to?  I was happy to keep him close anyway.

I posted Tucker’s experience on face book as I had many people asking what happened and how he was doing, I figured I wouldn’t have to tell the story so many times if I just put it out there.  Since it was out there for ALL my friends to see, so many people commented,  called or messaged me that the very things had happened to them or their child.  I could not believe how many people have experienced these symptoms all to the same conclusion of a migraine. One friend said that florescent lights trigger it for her daughter. Another friend found that it was dark chocolate-although when it happened it was during a very stressful time.  Another friend said it happens often to her tween daughter and if she starts getting a headache, she takes some migraine medicine that stops numbness and speech/confusion from happening. They set up a plan that if it got bad another student would walk her to the office and call her mom since she struggled to communicate when it hit a certain point.  Another friend called and said that it started happening when he was 15, same scenario with the ER and neurologist.  They happened often for him when he was young but now they only happen once every year or two.  He finds that if he takes an Excedrin Migraine at the first onset of symptoms, the scary ones like only seeing peripheral vision don’t happen. It happened to another friend who was pregnant and she had to pull her car over, call he husband and try to communicate to him to come and get her.  My own dad even said that he had a strange migraine experience in 7th grade but it never happened again.  He didn’t know what it was till after he slept it off and THEN told someone, who told him it was a migraine. Even one of the teachers at his school had it happen to one of her students in class.  Of course I hear about all of this AFTER our ER visit and Life Flight to a second ER.

Many people I talked to had gone to the doctor when they first experienced their symptoms

These migraines sound like something that is fairly common as I’ve heard so many stories.  I think if I would have known a few of these stories, I may not have panicked so bad when Tucker was experiencing those symptoms.  I would have taken the extra 10 min to run him to the children’s hospital and saved myself a ton of money.  REALLY, I could have had him lay down and take a nap. But in the end, I know I would need that initial trip to the ER to be sure that’s all it was. More info on complicated migraines is HERE.

On the way home from the hospital Tucker was able to tell me exactly what had happened at school.  He was in math, working on a paper when his arm started to get numb.  Soon he couldn’t hold his pencil so he used his left hand to finish his work.  He thought the numbness in his arm would go away so then he went to lunch where he mentioned it to some friends but they didn’t think anything of it.  After lunch he headed to Utah Studies and that’s when the right side of his face and his leg started to feel numb.  That’s when he called me. I didn’t ask him how he was feeling sick when he called, but he was making enough sense to say that he had to get his backpack before he would meet me in the counseling center.  By the time I picked him up, which was probably 10 after he called me, he couldn’t tell me what was going on.  It came out all mixed up.  He said he knew what he wanted to say, he just couldn’t say it.  He knew, when they asked who Derrel and I were, that he wanted to say Mom and Dad but all he could stutter out was our last name.

I am grateful that my Tucker is ok. Even though we will be getting some large bills in a month or so, I’m glad there is nothing REALLY wrong with him.  I’m so glad that Tucker called me when he did, otherwise I would have been at the elementary and might have missed his call. That would have caused a whole other mess I’m sure.  I’m grateful that my husband was working from home that day. I am grateful for Doctors and nurses who acted fast and were so very kind. All of these I believe to be tender mercies.

I appreciate the lessons learned through this whole experience.  I wanted to type this up for my own memory sake but also to share, as it could possibly help someone else feel a little more calm if it happens to someone they love.  Of course if the victim is older, it really could be a stroke and the sooner you get medical help, the better off they are.  I hope this info can be kept in the back of your mind for a time when it may happen to someone in your life.

I wish you all the best with your own busy lives.




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