Life is made up of many pieces, like a puzzle. Here I attempt to put them all together.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Story of the Big Fall

I want to say a big thank you to all my online friends who have been so supportive and during this time. I feel so blessed to know so many wonderful people.

We came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He has had some headaches but not really bad ones. And his head doesn't hurt all the time. Sometimes he seems a little hesitant when he talks and can be a little slow about answering questions, but that has gotten better throughout today.

His left side still bothers him quite a bit, he had tears in his eyes from the pain when we got to the truck after leaving the hospital. But that too has been getting better throughout the day, although he does hold himself very awkwardly when he walks. I keep thinking of that nursery rhyme "There was a crooked man" when I see him walk. But most of the time he has a smile on his face now when he walks  instead of tears in his eyes.

There really were not very many answers provided by the time we left the hospital. We know that he had  a subdural hematoma. It was a small one and it stopped fairly quickly.

My questions are more about why he fell. I know kids fall and hurt themselves. Austin has done it himself many times - tripping and hitting his head on the bookcase and needing stitches, flipping over the handle bars of his bike and badly bruising his ribs, breaking his little toe, etc. But this particular fall doesn't make sense to me.

I'll give a little background before I describe how he fell. We've noticed some things going on with him recently which have concerned us.

One incident was on a Sunday morning. I had noticed all morning that he seemed to be acting a little strange - more easily distracted than usual, standing in my space staring at me, and wandering off in the opposite direction from us with an absent look on his face in church. Then as we were standing in church singing he kept swaying oddly back and forth. I looked at him and he seemed okay so I asked him to stop. A few minutes later out of the corner of my eye I saw him doing it again but this time when I looked at him I realized something was wrong. His eyes were closed, he was pale and broken out in a sweat, he looked like he was trying to sit but couldn't be sure where the seat was so was half crouched swaying back and forth. I immediately got him seated and when he was able to open his eyes and talk again we went outside for some fresh air. He perked up but we decided to go on home. He went up to his room and rested for about 15 minutes and then he seemed back to normal.

A few mornings later I found him sleeping downstairs on the couch and when I asked him why he decided to sleep downstairs he had no idea how he had gotten there.

He has also started complaining of getting dizzy when he runs and of tingling in his legs.

A few times he has complained of just feeling weird and couldn't explain exactly how he  felt weird. One day he said "I have something on my mind and I don't know what it is."

We had an appointment set up with his pediatrician for a physical and too talk about these things, and were hoping to get a referral to a neurologist. He has seen a neurologist in the past and when he was eight was put on Depakote for migraines and absence seizures. However since he had significant trouble with learning in some areas already and Depakote is thought to sometimes cause trouble with cognitive skills we decided after about two years to try taking him off of it and see how he did. He seemed to do okay. The staring spells did not come back and if we immediately gave him ibuprofen when his head started to hurt we could nearly always avoid a full blown migraine. His wonderful neurologist who Austin loved and I trusted completely has since passed away so now we will need to find another neurologist.

The evening Austin fell he was at his grandparents house. He had been riding bikes with some other kids and then they had decided to climb the walnut tree behind the house. Austin had just bought a new pair of binoculars and wanted to see what he could see from the tree. The child (Jonathan age 8) he was climbing with said he stopped on a lower branch and Austin went on up a little higher to get a better view. As Jonathan watched from below Austin found a place he wanted to look from, started to raise the binoculars to look through them, than put them back down and shut his eyes. He started to lean back and Jonathan said he was about to tell him he didn't think he should lean back like that when Austin fell. Jonathan said he yelled "Timber" to let anyone below know to move out of the way (I love the way this child thinks).  Austin hit the ground sitting and then fell over. He had climbed 8 -10 feet. He laid on the ground and moaned. One of the other boys went to get an adult but by the time he got there he was coming around. Austin was crying but he got up and went in the house. He didn't want to go home (I was at home). He ate dinner and played with the other children there. Toward the end of the evening they watched a movie and during the movie Austin started dozing which is unusual for him. Then when he got up after the movie was over to get ready to come home he started complaining of pain in his side. By the time he got to the van to be brought home he was crying and when he came in the door at home he was almost hysterical. He sat down on the couch and refused to get up again to let me check his side. I got Doug (he's an EMT) to come check him over, while we were discussing what to do we noticed he gone from hysterical to dozing again so we decided to call the rescue squad and have him taken to the ER. There did x-rays and a CAT scan and found the hematoma (bleed).

Now he's restricted from lifting anything over 10 pounds for the next eight weeks, no running, climbing, biking, etc for the next eight weeks and no schoolwork for two weeks. We have an appointment with pediatrician Feb 9, and an appointment with the neurosurgeon in eight weeks to recheck the area that bled and decide what to do from there. We are also supposed to make an appointment with a pediatric neurologist for about the same time to discuss whether or not to continue with the seizure medication. He's on Dilantin now.

My feeling is that something happened before he fell that caused him to fall but the doctors don't seem to be interested in hearing that.Whether it was a seizure, or some other type of incident I believe something happened. It frustrates me not to be heard. The next time we have an appointment I will be prepared with a written account of what happened, the symptoms he's had leading up to this, and any other information that It think would be useful and they will listen. I hope. They also need to know that we have a family history of brain anuerysms.

Oh, and one side note. Amanda is sure I should have called my first blog post about Austin's fall "Big Boy Goes Splat!" She's been complaining ever since that I didn't. How's that for sisterly love!

Note - Austin does not remember climbing past Jonathan and starting to look through his binoculars, or why he stopped and closed his eyes. He says he does remember starting to fall and grabbing for the tree. It's another reason I believe there was an altered state of consciousness before he fell.


  1. wow how scary. I am glad you are determined to have the doctors listen to what you have to say and it is good to be prepared with all of the info you need.

    Praise God you all are home and everything seems to be getting a little better over time

  2. I'm still praying. Thank you for the update. I'll pray that the doctors really listen. I'm so sorry about this worry and stress!