Approximately four years ago, while I was on a school trip with my daughter, I received a phone call from my mother who was watching my other two children. It wasn’t a simple boo-boo. Something was seriously wrong. My son, then 11 years old, was having a problem walking.
He had come home from a friend’s house and could barely make it up the stairs. His legs were in spasms. He was screaming in pain. He hadn’t fallen. He didn’t get hit and we couldn’t figure out why this came on so suddenly. He kept telling me his back hurt and you could watch his legs when they spasmed. It would start at his thighs and go down his legs and last for minutes, then release and start all over again.
I was on a bus on my way home, so I couldn’t get there any faster. I was thinking about what it could be and I thought about everything from ‘he probably didn’t tell me he was goofing off and got hurt’ to ‘lyme disease’ and even to the big boys — muscular dystrophy. Who knew what I was facing when I got home. My mom rushed him to the emergency room where they completed an MRI which showed nothing. No answers yet.
For the next TWO WEEKS, my son camped out on the couch writhing in pain. We went back and forth to Westchester Medical Center meeting with neurologists — the ride down to the Center was horrific for both of us as he cried all the way down — trying to figure out what was going on. He was put on a muscle relaxer just to try and ease his pain, but no explanation as to what was causing it.
I slept holding on to him and when he wasn’t looking I cried wondering if he had some sort of paralyzing condition that would soon render him helpless. He already couldn’t walk. Every step he took started the spasms again. He wasn’t eating very well and you could see he was losing weight. I seriously thought that I was going to lose him to something, but what???
I Googled, I talked to anyone who would listen and the pediatrician and I were on the phone every day. There were X-rays, more MRIs and a lot of waiting.
Then, one day, when I was helping him to the bathroom, he screamed that he didn’t want to ‘push’. Aha! At the risk of embarrassing my son, every child has moments when they can’t go to the bathroom. Could this be it? No way I thought…okay, so maybe he’s constipated, but could it REALLY be causing this? Nah…stupid thought.
As I put him on the toilet, he was in so much pain he was begging to get off and I could see his legs spasm in all different directions, but I forced him to sit down and stay there for just a few minutes. I knew he hadn’t gone in a bit and I thought maybe it would just make him feel a little better. He screamed more than I ever heard him scream and I almost took him off, but something inside of me said NO. I knew I needed to leave him there and make him go.
Thirty seconds later, my son walked off that toilet. Sound funny? My jaw dropped. Every kid gets slightly constipated, but what happened to my son was different and beyond the normal digestive issues. For some odd reason, and even the neurologists were baffled, his condition pressed on a nerve in his back and it locked and it sent him into a muscular shutdown. The pediatrician and the neurologist said they’ve never seen anything like it and one day they said they’d write him up for the medical journals.
He walked off that toilet! It was like something I’d never seen before in my life. It was over. Just like that. I cried for 20 minutes at least and was thankful that he was okay. He went and played video games. If I hadn’t listened to my instincts to keep him there, who knows how much worse the situation would’ve gotten. Listen to your instincts. They are truly real.
Look for our article on ‘Trusting your Gut Instinct’ in the November issue of Hudson Valley Parent and for more examples of Hudson Valley moms who listened to their gut instinct. Do you have a story like this? Share it with us!