We all sat in the cramped examining room, waiting for the pediatric neurologist to rap on the door. Madi was reading, Fiona was bouncing between Ben and I, and Parker lay in a fetal position in the elevated examining chair, cupping his right eye. He had come down with a migraine in the elevator and it was getting worse by the minute.
The doctor came in, a young guy, and ran us through the typical list of questions. Allergies, surgeries, sicknesses, asthma, frequency, symptoms, possible triggers, and we answered the best we could. He tried to ask Parker questions too, but he had started to shut down from the pain, and his answers were groggy at best. He aced his neurologic exam though, and avoided puking in the pink bedpan they brought in “just in case”.
By the end of the appointment, the doctor agreed with our pediatrician that they were almost certainly “just” migraines. We have the family history, he has all four of the symptoms that identify them as migraines, and everything else from a neurological standpoint checked out okay. It was good, a confirmation that nothing is seriously awry, and we left with concrete steps for helping him manage the frequency and the severity.
But as I held his limp body over a snowbank on the way home so he could puke up his dinner, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. There’s no “solution”, no “cure all” for migraines. I’ve seen more than my share of “fixes”, growing up with a mom who still suffers from debilitating migraines. I know full well how to tuck comforters over the curtains to black out the room, fill trash cans with extra plastic bag liners, and set glasses of cool water on the nightstand. I recognize that helpless feeling when all you can do is gently brush their hair off their forehead and put another blanket on the bed.
It is incredibly difficult when it is your mom; it is gut-wrenching when it is your six year old son.
We made it home and I tucked him in with a trash can and a water bottle by his bed. I smoothed back his hair, and whispered that I loved him. He mumbled something back, and started to drift off to sleep. I sat there for a moment, wishing that I could rip the pain right out of his head and stuff it into mine. You try so hard as a parent to smooth the path in front of your kids, like an Olympian curler furiously sweeping the ice in front of the puck, but you can’t get rid of all the bumps in their way. They still might be bullied on the playground or struggle with reading or get dumped by their girlfriend or not make the team or get in an accident or suffer with chronic pain. You can’t protect them from everything, no matter how hard you try, and I have a hard time reconciling that as truth.
So we will document and we will try medications and we will track down triggers and I will hold his head over the toilet when he throws up…and I will be thankful that it isn’t any of the big, scary things that many kids have to suffer through…
But for tonight, all I could do was hold his hand until he fell asleep….and pray that tomorrow would be better.