I learned on Friday that my son’s brain MRI has NO tumors! I prayed. I begged. I bartered. I worried and I fretted about the procedure and the impending results. Then, on Friday, I got to read the words, “No intracranial masses”. I can only compare it to feeling like I could finally breathe! And, yes. I cried some very happy tears.
The whole thing, as you probably know, arose from the abnormal EEG that my son had back in late September. It was then that we learned he was having silent seizures in Stage 2 of his sleep. Whenever there is an abnormal EEG, it is standard procedure to do a brain MRI to rule out any physical thing that might be going on to cause the abnormal EEG.
Our neurologist let me know that, nearly always, the MRI comes back normal. But, I’m a mom. I worry. And with all the times my son has told me his eyes hurt, I worried more. [His eyesight has been tested and is actually quite good.]
The results did show an asymmetry of the hippocampus. Now, I knew that word “hippocampus” vaguely, back in the day, when I had to study these things in school, but I definitely needed a refresher course on what it is and what it does. The hippocampus apparently, plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long term memory and in spatial navigation – (navigation meaning preventing us from getting lost). We all have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain. The word originates from something Greek that translates to seahorse, because it is said that the hippocampus is shaped like a seahorse.
I learned that the hippocampus is one of the first regions in Alzheimer’s disease, to suffer damage. I only found this of interest because one of the drugs that is being used to treat my son’s language (and for which he has shown improvement) is a drug which is primarily prescribed for Alzheimer’s patients… it is Namenda. Damage to the hippocampus can also result from oxygen starvation, encephalitis or from mid-temporal lobe seizures. His EEG showed mid-temporal lobe sleep-activated seizures.
For my son, his “left hippocampal formation is more rounded in configuration with slightly indistinct gray-white differentiation”, according to the report. I was told this just means that one side is more round and more “blobby” than the other.
The EEG said the sleep-activated seizures might be indicative of some “focal or structural or irritative pathology for the left temporal region” which meant that the brain MRI might have shown some physical reason why the seizures were happening. The brain MRI says to correlate it with the EEG. Seems to be finger pointing to me..
When I went to the appointment for follow up, our neurologist was in surgery so we met with his nurse-practitioner. She told me that this correlation is useful if he is having physical seizures because it becomes the area of focus in the event surgical intervention is considered. Obviously, we are not having “physical seizures” in the sense she is speaking of and I would not consider brain surgery for him. Still, as far as correlation, it is interesting.
She brought in another doctor who told me the changes to my son’s brain on the MRI are so subtle, that most physicians reading the results would probably have not noted any abnormality at all. Which doesn’t really tell me anything. I think it was meant to lessen my worry.
I still have questions. The biggest question I have is where do we go from here? Does the MRI tell him anything that will change our course of treatment? Apparently not, at this point. Right now we are still on the same meds and monitoring this still really new course of treatment. The other question I have is which came first, the seizures or the differences in the hippocampi? Do they have any way to know?
My son has been given meds for the seizures and for the language. There has been some clear break-throughs in language. He is using new words, probably a few times a week and giving me longer, more complex sentences with more sophisticated concepts. He has also had a spike in yelling and off and on melty-behavior. One of the meds can cause irritability. I lowered that dose by half a milliliter on my own over the weekend and it seemed to correlate with a decrease in the screaming and melty behavior…
I don’t know what the future holds. I do know what the past held. What I see now is good. I’m not looking it in the mouth – I’m just grateful the only Christmas gift I wanted – I got. And it came early.
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