So 48 hours from Abdominal Migraine Kick Off Time and boyo is still ashen, quiet and withdrawn. My normal bubbly, cheeky, energetic, sometimes painfully strong-willed, 9 year old is floored. Another two days off school. Another set-back. Another two days of family-life being dominated by the ticking of a clock and when the next squirt of painkillers or anti-emetics can come.
Abdominal Migraines suck. Fact. They aren’t serious or life-threatening. Surely they are just a minor inconvenience. No. They are hell. For the sufferer and those around them. You know how a head migraine is like a freight train of extreme pain and fatigue, well now add in a Cargo Ship of stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
First off comes the long and desperately worrying period when they first start and the road to diagnosis. It’s not unusual for Abdominal Migraines (AM) to exist alongside ASD (if you need to combat some insomnia, take a look at this research study – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2211386/). So, you have a kid who has life kinda tough as a starting point. Their sensory awareness is all a bit haywire. You’ve fought the battles, you’ve earnt your parenting stripes on this one, and then along comes more Worry.From.Hell.
For Boo his AM journey looks something like this: July 2014 he had 10 days of gastro-bug type symptoms. Symptoms stop, no one else is chundering their guts, a week of reprieve and then the chundering starts again. Kid stops eating in the meantime. He’s now petrified of the Vomit-Train. He’s regularly bent double in agony with stomach cramps. Remember the sensory skew-whiffness of ASD – this ain’t fun. This cycle goes on for 8 weeks. Over the school summer holidays. Finally, he gets an urgent paediatrician referral. By now the Lean Mean Rugby Machine Boo has lost a whole heap of weight. So Mission: Stop The Vomit commences. 3 months of anti-nausea meds and an attempt to get him gaining weight again. Then along comes Mission: Kick the AM’s in to Touch. Except some arse keeps moving the touchline back.
18 months later and we’re far enough along in the mission that we sometimes think, wow, have we got it cracked? We even tried taking him off the long term meds which make the Lean Mean Rugby Machine slightly more rounded and sleepy (yay, ASD+Sleep not best buds). Nope, no such luck, back on them. Up the dose. Another two days off school.
But I just want them off my kid. I’ll never forget the helplessness I felt picking him up from school one day when he hadn’t been flagged up in the early stage of the symptoms and he was tearing at his head on the journey home begging for me to end it. I’ll never forget holding up all 5 stone of him as he couldn’t hold his own weight as he chundered at the roadside. I’ll never forget the ashen grey conked out pained sleep that follows a bad attack. Or the days where this kid who doesn’t do physical affection is desperate to be hugged, to be held (ok, so shush I like that bit), to believe that his mum can make him ok again.
But most of all I won’t forget his fear. His dread of the porcelain. His utter despair as another migraine creeps up and puts its clenching hands around his gut, and now his head.
We’re working on it kiddo. We’re trying to find the answers, the triggers, the cause, the solution. But without the communication skills of an NT kid we’re searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack and the patient is left confused and bewildered in the meantime. But all the while the buggers grip you like they do we’ll keep searching. Promise ya fella, we’ll get them to back off yet.