I awoke to the sound of my 13 month old son on the baby monitor at 3:01AM today. His nickname is Baby Shark, and therefor the baby monitor is known as the “Shark Cam” in our house. And as happens with sharks, he seems to be getting a lot of new teeth these days. I don’t remember my own teething experience, but I imagine it isn’t pleasant to have hard, pointed objects bursting through fresh gum tissue, and not having enough frontal lobe development or life experiences to understand the pain. Poor little guy.
Once I comforted Shark and got him back to sleep about an hour later, I started thinking about the natural thing most moms might ponder at 4AM – cerebellar stroke. Doesn’t everyone contemplate this neurological phenomenon at that weary hour?
I thought of the cases I have encountered over the years of patients who seek help for dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, who are then sent home from the ER, diagnosed with more benign forms of vertigo or migraines, but are dead three days later from severe cerebellar swelling. They are some of the saddest cases neurologists encounter because they are so tragic. And they can occur in young people. What can begin as neck pain (from a dissected vertebral artery) can rapidly become a catastrophic event resulting in death.
To those of you out there who are forever changed by a cerebellar stroke – whether you are a cerebellar stroke survivor, have a survivor loved one, or have lost someone you deeply loved to a cerebellar stroke, know that I am thinking of you this morning. The young adult with neck pain that became dizziness, vomiting, and instability. The person with atrial fibrillation who tried to do everything right to prevent a stroke but had one anyway. The person who didn’t necessarily do what was advised, had a stroke, and now lives with regret and limitations. I’m thinking of all of you this morning with empathy and care.
Life is so complex, isn’t it? It’s robust, miraculous, and yet hangs in a fragile balance. Every single day’s dawning does not guarantee we will see its conclusion.
As I put my sleeping young son back to bed this morning, I marveled at how perfect he seems. His little hands and toes. His sighs. And even all of those teeth that are erupting.
He has his whole life ahead of him. How long will that be? I hope very, very long.
Sep 20, 2021
Hi Jodi, your post reminds me that I need to update my status after a cerebellar stroke. This is mainly for those survivors who are wondering how will they feel after 4 and a half years. I’m sure they will be much better. Thanks for your work, posts and book. It’s huge support for us, the patients
4 and a half years I suffered an spontaneous vertebral artery dissection and a cerebelar stroke. I was a young male, 44 years old, healthy sports man. Right now I’m feeling well, just some light dizziness if I sleep less than 8 hours for 5 days in a row or if I over exercise.
My artery didn’t heal because I was not properly diagnosed for the first 3 months after the first symptoms: nausea, gait coordination issues, feeling like bieng pull to my right side, lightheaded, right side face numbness… and I didn’t take aspirin during this time except for the first 5 days, while I was feeling just a strange and new pain in the lower back of my head (sharp pain). I though (rather desire) I had a stomach disease. I went to several phisicians, but focusing on my nausea and hoping it would be something that a pill will cure
Now, I try to sleep 7-8 hours from monday to thursday, then I sleep on the friday evening about 4 hours (a long long nap) and 9-10 hours at night. My fitness training is just pilates 2 days/week. I ride electric mountain bike that helps me to climb steep paths without getting exhausted. It allows me to keep my heart rate below 80% (aprox.) during the route, and then several days after, that I don’t feel as sick as years ago, and I can enjoy my spare time and my job without great dizziness. I also go downhill at the nearest bikepark and I can enjoy my bike with friends for the whole day (5 hours) taking some rest between laps. I am less and less affected by the intense light corridors at a mall or by other vertigo triggers (noise, sun burn, extreme hot in summer, etc)
Light exercise – deep rest, light exercise – deep rest,… is the only key. My advice: never stop moving, but don’t over exercise. Absolute rest is not the way.
Super happy with the improvement after the first 3 years. Sometimes I think that almost everything about the stroke is left behind
It’s funny how my neurologist avoided the word ‘stroke’. I could read it in the test prescriptions (holter, eco, MRI, blood tests,…) It said ‘Cerebellar Stroke’ (terrible word at that moment). And it’s also funny I didn’t get it completely until 3 days later. I received psychological treatment to fight depression. It made me realised that having problems to get a 4 people conversation, or swallowing problems, was normal. Don’t hesitate to get profesional help in that matter and be sure you will get on well with time
I hope these words will reach people looking for help
(48 years old, Male, Madrid, Spain)
PD: cute baby photo
Nov 13, 2021
“Once I comforted Shark and got him back to sleep about an hour later, I started thinking about the natural thing most moms might ponder at 4AM – cerebellar stroke.“
Moms do not ponder cerebeller strokes in the babies and children. Maybe seizures but not strokes because it’s unheard of. Interesting push in this current climate of paranoia and hyper-vax state we are in.
Jodi Gehring, MD says:
Feb 2, 2022
I was being a bit facetious and I guess my humor fell short. Sorry about that. Vascular neurologist moms often think of strokes during times when others do not. I have treated strokes in babies and children. I assure you – it’s not unheard of.