Friday, January 29, 2010

A Brain Birthmark - What?!

It was early in the morning when Judd complained of being very, very dizzy while returning to bed after a trip to the bathroom. He actually bumped into walls. I thought he was just groggy and told him just to get back in bed with me. A few hours later, when we awoke, it became increasingly obvious that something was seriously wrong with him. He could not talk clearly. His speech was completely garbled. He was extremely dizzy. When I told him to look at me and smile, one side of his face drooped. I immediately got him to his doctor.

Although still very dizzy, he could smile and his speech was clearer by the time we saw the doctor. I could still hear a difference. He also talked slowly. It was like his brain was processing his speech in slow motion. Judd told his doctor that he thought it was just a side effect of some cough medicine he took. The doctor performed some gross motor tests asking Judd to touch his nose and move his arms in circles. Judd passed these tests and insisted he would be fine. I knew he wasn't. He was still very, very dizzy. The doctor sent us on our way telling me to call if there wasn't improvement soon. I drove Judd to his office so he could get a little work completed. When he picked up his pen to sign his name, he couldn't write letters! He kept laughing, and trying to sign his name, but his hand couldn't sign! It was chicken scratch. He didn't have his fine motor skills! I called the doctor who told me to get Judd to the emergency room immediately.

He was admitted with classic symptoms of a stroke. How could a healthy twenty-four year old have a stroke? They ran cat scans and heart scans. They gave him shots in his stomach and repeatedly tested his blood. With his history of cancer, we were very relieved when told it wasn't brain cancer.

Fortunately, one of the leading brain specialists in this region was at that hospital the next day. She read Judd's scans and came in to visit us. She performed gross and fine motor skills with Judd, who was improving hour by hour. When asked a question, he would respond using real words, but they were completely wrong words. They made no sense to say them as a response to the questions. He would just laugh and slap his leg in frustration. Later, he told me he could think everything clearly and correctly in his head, but when he would speak, a completely different word would come out of his mouth. It was such an odd experience.

The doctor had her diagnosis. She said it was not a real stroke as people tend to think of strokes. It was a birthmark on his brain that ruptured. It temporarily bruised his brain leaving no permanent damage. And, after thorough review of his scans, she was absolutely assured this could never happen again. It was a complete fluke. After three or four days in the hospital, Judd was released. In time he fully recovered. We overcame interruption #2.

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