Before I start with what I want to say, I would like it known, that I am only talking about the experiences I have had, and am in no way offering medical advice, or understanding. If you want to learn more about the condition, there are experts and medical practitioners who I am sure will be happy to inform you. I am just talking as a Mum who has been trying to help her son.
Hubby has suffered from migraines for many years. When he gets them, he takes himself off to bed, and sleeps until he’s physically sick, then he sleeps some more, and is usually fine afterwards. The doctors always want him to think about triggers that are setting them off, but there has been little pattern to them, so it is just a case of living with them, and when he feels the on set taking his medication to hopefully reduce the severity of them. Luckily they are few and far between, so not too disruptive to his routine.
A couple of years back, we took M to the doctors, because he kept getting headaches. We had his eyes tested so we knew that wasn’t the cause. The fact he was usually sick about the time off these hot heads – as M calls them, and with the family history of them, the doctor believes M is also getting migraine. Because of his age though, there isn’t medication he can take other than the basic over the counter stuff. Like all things to do with our kids, I think even if there is no instant cure, knowledge is power, and therefore knowing that there was something in his complaining, made it easier to deal with.
Over the last 6 months of so, M has had a lot of sickness. One off episodes of vomiting, with no sign of illness to go with them. With his dislike of school at the moment, we had put it down to not wanting to go and making himself sick to get out of it. I know that is a terrible thing for a parent to accuse her child of, but it seemed to fit a pattern that the more he complained about school, the more likely he was to be sick – usually in the middle of the night, but luckily, he seemed to make it to the bathroom on most occasions, and usually his first question after the event was about if it meant he would not have to go to school, which would make anyone suspicious about it I think.
As with all things though, the longer they go on, you have two courses of action to follow. Firstly the idea of, if you ignore it long enough, it will go away. Secondly, look into it, and seek expert advice. I think, by having let it go for a few months, and there seeming to be no let up in the occurrences, it was time to find out what was going on. Like all modern parents, I decided to Google his symptoms to see what it came up with – I am sure the internet is the bain of all GP’s lives, as patients self-diagnose. Usually when you look up symptoms online, you come up with some pretty nasty complaints that they fit, and you instantly think you are going to not last the day. However, when I put in M’s symptoms, of the sickness, bloated stomach, stress, bags under his eyes, there seems to be only one thing, and that was abdominal migraines. These were something I had heard of, only because when M was diagnosed with regular migraines, it was mentioned in passing. I therefore decided to make an appointment with the GP I see to ask about it – unfortunately the doctor I like, if hard to get an appointment with as she is so popular, so we had to wait a couple of weeks, but I thought it was better to see someone, both myself and M felt comfortable with.
Monday was the day of the appointment. As it happens M was off school, having been sick at the weekend. This doctor was the one that helped me with all my problems last year, and so I knew she would listen, rather than the way many doctors get their backs up when you dare to suggest a possible reason for symptoms. I explained about what had been going on with M, and that I was wondering about the possibility of it being abdominal migraines. She was honest and said she hadn’t come across that since she worked in a hospital many years before, but his symptoms certainly fitted it, and with a family history of migraines, it was highly probable. Some times it pays to research first because goodness knows how long it would have taken to get to this point other wise. She consulted her little magic book of drugs, and said because of his age, she was unable to offer his anything to prevent them – that has to be done at the hospital by a pediatric specialist, but she could give him some anti-sickness drugs to use when he feels one coming on, to try to elevate the severity of each episode. This sounded a good way forward. She then asked about why a 9-year-old was so stressed that is was making him unwell. I never know if I should laugh or cry when I try to explain how unhappy he is at school at the moment, but that’s for another day to talk about. She thinks reducing his stress will help, but sees that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. I think M was happy to know someone took him seriously, and didn’t just think it was skivilitous. I think knowing that his sickness isn’t bug related helps because it means we don’t have to adhere to the 48 hour rule, and once he’s slept off his pain, he will be fit for school. The doctor wants to see him again in a couple of months to see how things are. She has said, that if the regularity of the episodes hasn’t reduced, then she will refer him to the hospital for further examination. To me that sounds the best way forward.
I think the lesson I have learned again from this, is that as parents we must follow our gut instincts where our kids health is concerned, and if we believe something is wrong, talk to someone who will listen and act accordingly. We must all remember that mental and physical health are related and one can cause problems with the other. My next step is a meeting with the school tomorrow to discuss why my child is so frightened to go to school. Wish me luck!