According to the book, Caring for Kids
, strokes afflict about 1 child in every 20,000. Liam's speech therapist shared that most people don't recognize the signs of a child having a stroke, because it's not something people typically think of when a child is exhibiting abnormal behaviors. Some may explain the behavior by thinking the child just isn't feeling well, is over-tired, or acting goofy.
I will admit that my first thought when I noticed something with Liam was that he was over-tired and acting goofy (because, boy, is my Liam ever a goof-ball!).
We were about an hour away from home and spending the weekend at my sister's house while Mike painted the baby's room. We spent all day Saturday swimming, watching movies, swimming some more, and then playing a bit of Wii before bed.
We finished up a game of Wheel of Fortune on the Wii and I had the boys go upstairs to get ready for bed. Liam went up the stairs just fine. I'm not sure when it happened, but the boys were laughing with each other (or maybe just Quinn was laughing) - I was tired and just wanted to get them into bed, so I told Liam to go use the toilet. He started crawling to the bathroom and I told him to get up and walk. After counting to three (my usual "it's time to listen method") I picked him up and put him on the toilet. He became upset and started crying and when I went to look at him he was having troubling standing and pulling his pants up. I helped him, still thinking he was way over-tired, up past his normal bedtime, and had him walk back to the room. As he was walking he ran right into the wall on his right side. Then I started thinking maybe something is wrong.
I stood him up in the hallway, had him look at me, and knew something was wrong. I took each hand and had him squeeze my fingers. He could not squeeze with his right hand. He couldn't move his right arm at all. I then made him smile and noticed that the right side of his face stayed down while the left side smiled. (He wasn't talking or crying at this point at all.)
At that time I called for my sister to come and look - I don't think she saw anything, but I assured her "we have to go" - I left Quinn with my brother-in-law and my sister and I headed to the nearest hospital.
On the way I noticed Liam wasn't talking, couldn't move anything on the right side of his body. I still wasn't thinking of a stroke. Who would? We got to the ER around 9:30pm and the first thing the nurse mentioned was Bells Palsy
. The nurse and the doctor encouraged Liam to stick his tongue out, squeeze their hands, and lift his legs - none of which he could do until after a few hours. He wasn't talking at all until about midnight.
Liam - 11:00pm - June 30th
about two hours after I first noticed something was wrong
Look at the eyes - and the crooked smile
After a CT scan came back normal the ER doctor told us we'd have to transfer to a hospital with a pediatric neurologist because clearly something was wrong, even with a normal CT scan. We left St. Anthony's hospital in Rockford for Loyola's Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital at 1:18am - four hours after arriving in the ER.
We arrived at Loyola at 2:30am and quickly made our way to the Pediatric Step-Up unit. I'm not sure what time we saw the neurologist, but as soon as he saw Liam he said he felt he suffered from an acute stroke (meaning a stroke that came on suddenly) and he ordered an MRI stat (right away). It wasn't until almost six hours later that Liam had an MRI that showed that he did in fact have a stroke.
There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic involves a clot - hemorrhagic involves bleeding. My understanding from 100 Questions & Answers About Stroke
, if he was having an hemorrhagic the CT scan would have shown bleeding in the brain. Of the two - an ischemic stroke is the one you'd want to choose if you had a choice in the matter. And luckily for us, that's the type that Liam had. By the time the MRI was performed the clot had already cleared and blood was already flowing to the part of the brain that was affected (the basil ganglia).
I've described what I saw in Liam, but thought it might be helpful to list the signs of a stroke that I read about in Caring for Kids.
- weakness in one side of the body
- weakness of facial muscles
- changes in vision
- difficulty swallowing (drooling)
- difficulty with balance and coordination
- older children might complain of headache
Labels: childhood stroke, CT scan, ER, ischemic stroke, liam, MRI, neurology, signs of stroke