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.