Life After Stroke: Conner, Stroke at 8 Years Old

On the morning of March 7, 2016, as I was getting ready to leave for work, Conner came racing down the stairs to tell me goodbye before I left. Being a rambunctious 8-year-old, he jumped up on the recliner on his hands and knees, and his elbows buckled underneath him. He fell directly into the sharp corner of our end table, hitting his cheek. It immediately turned black and terribly swollen. I am an ICU nurse and did a full neuro exam. Aside from pain, I didn’t think there was anything wrong. I worried about him all that day. I worked the next day as well and my mom babysat my kids after she got off work. 

They were talking, and Conner stopped speaking mid-sentence and foamed a little at the mouth and was unable to speak. She was of course alarmed but after a few moments his face relaxed and he blinked his eyes and made a very off-the-wall comment. He told her he was tired and by the time I got home he was already asleep. 

The next day is when we started to really notice something was very wrong. He was overly tired, unable to form a sentence, and was completely spaced out. 

I took him to his pediatrician the next day and even he did not think of a stroke because physically, Conner had no real deficit. He ordered an EEG and MRI that were done outpatient that evening. 10 minutes into the MRI, I see the radiologist race into the MRI room. A few minutes later I receive a call from my son’s pediatrician that he has had a large left side acute stroke.  He told me that they were going to try and finish the MRI and then we would be going down to the ER so that they could prepare Conner for lifeline to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. 

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach and I had no one with me because my husband was in the MRI room with him… he didn’t even know yet. I was going to have to break the news to him myself. Just then, my mom and grandma came walking into the hospital, right when I needed them most. 

The next couple of days were filled with countless consults with different physicians and multiple therapies. 

Once we went home, things changed drastically. He had been completely silent and spaced out and upon returning home, he flipped a switch. He became extremely aggressive, violent, impulsive, reckless, and just scared me to death. He could not return to school at all the rest of that year and I quit my nursing job to be home with him. For a year and a half he was in speech and occupational therapy, he was discharged this past summer. 

He has been on multiple different medications and several dosage adjustments and things seem to be so much better now. He still has trouble with executive functioning (how you plan, organize, and complete a task). He likely will always struggle with processing his thoughts and he is very emotional. He has, however, come a very long way and is back to being the sweetest kid in the world. He had already given his heart to Jesus and his faith remains strong. I am so proud of how far he has come and for never giving up. 

3 Responses to “Life After Stroke: Conner, Stroke at 8 Years Old

  • Hi. Ur son recovered? Like back to ‘normal’? My son.. he got stroke when he was 7yrs old. And now he is turning 12.. but still has a limp on his right leg/foot. And right arm/hand cant barely use. We went over years of therapy… but still no progress. Though im not loosing hope..he had left brain blood clot causing right part of his body to be affected. .. appreciate ur reply. Thanks

  • Sarah Barnes
    4 months ago

    He never really had the physical deficits we were told he should have. He developed severe emotional and behavioral problems. He would still have those if he weren’t on such high dosages of medications. He also received some behavioral therapy from our pastor. We are very diligent about having him take his medication and when he seems to have trouble containing his behavior for more than a week or so, I make a Dr appt and his meds are usually adjusted. I hope your son continues to improve. Never give up. Improvement and healing can take a long time.

  • Michael McNulty
    3 weeks ago

    My son had a stroke at 5. At first he couldn’t use his right side at all. He’s 11 now and still has some right side weakness and neglect, but much better. He suffers most from aphasia and visual processing issues making learning to read difficult. Every case will be different and progress differently. There are always new approaches and new therapies coming out. Have you tried casting (removable cast) the left hand to force use of right?

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