CPMC and Packard Children’s collaboration returns headache-plagued teen to normal life
Pain so bad "It was like he was hit by a bus," doctor said.
Contacts: Dean Fryer - CPMC. 415-600-7484; FryerD@sutterhealth.org and Winter Johnson - LPCH. 650-498-7056; firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco, September 10, 2013 - When Jaden Turner isn’t absorbed in his schoolwork for the eighth grade, he enjoys playing basketball with his buddies, listening to music and -- like most teenagers -- playing video games.
Such normal activities were anything but normal for the 13-year-old San Franciscan earlier this year when, for four months, he suffered from migraine headaches so severe that many days, being exposed to anything more than dim light or a soft voice was agonizingly painful. His head was so hypersensitive to touch that a haircut was intolerable.
But thanks to an ongoing collaboration between California Pacific Medical Center and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Jaden’s migraines are a thing of the past.
It started in January when Jaden developed what seemed to be an ordinary headache. It passed, but the headaches kept recurring and at times he would vomit when he was stricken.
Stacey Williams, Jaden’s mom, had taken him to CPMC, as the headaches were worsening. It was so bad that Jaden’s school once called Stacey because he had another headache, had vomited and had tingling and numbness in his right arm and down his leg. His arms and legs also began shaking.
"What really worried me was that I didn’t really understand why my legs and arms would be shaking because of a headache," Jaden said.
The diagnosis was migraines, but rest and ibuprofen didn’t help. That’s when the family was referred to Packard Children’s neurologists at CPMC. Since early 2012, physicians from both organizations have been working together to enhance access to the highly specialized medical needs of San Francisco and North Bay children.
Packard Children’s pediatric neurologist Susy Jeng, MD, clinical assistant professor of neurology at the Stanford School of Medicine, conducted a battery of tests that ruled out possible causes such as tumors, blood vessel abnormalities or inflammation of the brain. Those causes off the table, she concluded that Jaden’s pain could be caused by irritated nerves, in which case he might benefit from receiving a nerve block for the pain.
Jeng referred Jaden to Packard Children’s Pain Management Service, where anesthesiologist Meredith Brooks, MD, evaluated him.
Brooks, who is also a clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine, agreed some of his nerves were irritated, with the main culprit likely his occipital nerves, which rise out of the spinal column at the base of the neck and pass through the trapezius muscle onto the skull. She suspected Jaden’s trapezius muscle was tensing up, pressing on the occipital nerves and causing his pain.
On May 17, Brooks gave Jaden six injections — four at the base of his skull and two in his forehead.
"The needles Dr. Brooks used were so huge they looked like turkey basters,"said Stacey.
"Jaden was really brave," said Brooks. Mom agreed. " He received the injections on a Thursday, went to school the next day and he’s been fine ever since," said Stacey. Exactly one week after the shots, Jaden and his friends celebrated his 13th birthday. "Not having headaches made that really special," Jaden said.
Reflecting on Jaden’s saga and quick turnaround, Jeng said, "It was like this kid was hit by a bus and now he’s back to normal.
"Jaden’s case illustrates perfectly our collaboration with CPMC, which is helping kids and families have seamless access to more specialized care than they may have available otherwise,” said Claudia Mueller, MD, medical director of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at CPMC and assistant professor of surgery at the School of Medicine.
"Our collaborative effort with Packard Children’s has allowed CPMC to add expertise that might not otherwise be available, which provides for a broader array of pediatric specialties for patients who need these added services," said Lorry Frankel, MD, chair of CPMC’s Department of Pediatrics and professor emeritus of pediatrics at the School of Medicine. “It is our hope that through these greater collaborative efforts we can broaden pediatric services to the children in the San Francisco and Marin counties.”
Now a month into the eighth grade, Jaden — who amazingly never dropped off the honor roll last year — is deeply thankful for the care and treatment he received. It was an experience that has given him some perspective that not many kids his age have.
"I understand that you need to not take life for granted," said Jaden, who at times thought he’d never recover. “Do everything you can to be healthy and live long. Just live your life."
About California Pacific Medical Center
At San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center we deliver personal, hands-on care to every single patient, every single day. As one of California’s largest private, community-based, not-for-profit medical centers, we research the most up-to-date treatments, hire the most qualified individuals, and practice the most modern, innovative medicine available. We deliver the highest-quality expert care with kindness and compassion in acute, post-acute and outpatient services, as well as preventive and complementary medicine. We also provide disease counseling, family support and wellness treatments.
About Packard Children’s Hospital
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford is an internationally recognized 311-bed hospital and leading regional medical network providing a full complement of services for the health of children and expectant mothers. Together, our world-class Standford Medicine doctors, nurses and staff deliver innovative, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty. Packard Children’s is annually ranked as one of the nation’s finest by U.S. News & World Report and the only Northern California children’s hospital with specialty programs ranked in the U.S. News Top 10. Learn more about our full range of preeminent programs at lpch.org and the Packard Children’s Health Alliance at PCHA.org. Like us on Facebook and watch us on YouTube.