If you could meet our 12-year-old son Hudson today, you’d probably never guess that he had a stroke six years ago. On the outside, he looks like any other kid his age: He swims, plays soccer, and zips around the block on his scooter. But after a few minutes of interacting, you might notice that his right shoulder sags; that when he smiles, his face droops just a bit on that same side. Whereas his peers are tackling Lord of the Rings, he’s reading Encyclopedia Brown. He might be the only child you’ve ever met who plays Minecraft with just one hand.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

But even with these minor handicaps, you still wouldn’t look at him and think stroke. I didn’t even know pediatric strokes were a thing until six years ago, and I’m a nurse. But because of what happened to Hudson on October 7, 2012, I now know that pediatric strokes are, in fact, a very real thing. They’re why, after 18 years of nursing, I took my first medical helicopter ride just after midnight on an otherwise calm autumn evening. Our mission: Transporting a 7-year-old boy — my boy — to a children’s hospital that was equipped to handle rare pediatric emergencies.

Hudson before his stroke.

COURTESY OF KERRY CROMWELL

THE DAY EVERYTHING CHANGED

I had been driving back from a girls’ weekend, feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, when my husband Andrew called.

“Something’s wrong with Hudson,” he said, his voice panicked and full of fear.

As the parents of three rough-and-tumble boys, along with their little sister, we’re used to bumps and bruises and tend not to overreact to things. So this time, I knew something was very wrong.

Hudson had been playing football in the yard with his two older brothers. When he came in the house crying and clutching his right arm, Andrew assumed he was tired, or perhaps he’d gotten tackled a bit harder than usual. But when he asked Hudson to take his shoes off, our normally strong, sturdy boy fell over. He also was unable to speak. Thankfully I was just a few miles away, so I hit the gas pedal and raced home.

“No,” I replied. “He’s seven years old. Kids don’t have strokes.”

When I pulled up to our house, Andrew was on the front patio with Hudson, trying to keep him awake. He seemed to be floating in and out of consciousness, his head and neck floppy and his eyes rolling back. I called 911.

The closest hospital is six miles from our home, so when the paramedics — many of whom I knew from work — arrived and told me we were headed to the trauma center located 45 miles away in Fresno, California, the seriousness of our situation hit me right in the gut.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

After multiple scans and ultrasounds, the treating physician told us it was likely a concussion. But as I watched my son lying on the gurney, the right side of his body didn’t look like the left side; it was sort of limp, with his right toes pointed out instead of up, which I recognized as a sign of neurological damage. At one point he seemed to make meaningful eye contact with my husband, but Hudson was mostly zoned out and unable to talk.

As I watched my son lying on the gurney, the right side of his body didn’t look like the left side. It was sort of limp, with his right toes pointed out instead of up, which I recognized as a sign of neurological damage.

COURTESY OF KERRY CROMWELL

I snapped into nurse mode, challenging the doctor, “Does this really look like a concussion to you?” and begged him to do an MRI for a deeper look at Hudson’s brain. He agreed.

During the MRI, I called my dad to update our extended family. I mentioned Hudson’s symptoms and my dad, who has zero medical background, said, “That sounds like a stroke.”

“No, Daddy,” I replied. “He’s seven years old. Kids don’t have strokes.”

About an hour later, a physician assistant returned and pulled the MRI results up on a computer screen. “See this big lit up area right here?” he asked, pointing to left side of Hudson’s brain. “This really looks like a stroke.”


A stroke happens when a blood vessel responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked by a clot, or bursts. They are exceedingly common — someone in the U.S. has one every 40 seconds, for a total of about 800,000 per year. Most of us picture an older man or woman, maybe someone who is overweight, has heart disease or smokes, when we think of strokes. But the truth is, they can happen to anyone, regardless of age or health condition.

Pediatric strokes, though, are relatively rare — the risk of stroke from birth through age 18 is about 11 in 100,000 children per year, according to the National Stroke Association. But they do happen. Boys and African-American children seem to be at a higher risk. Common risk factors include congenital heart defects, sickle-cell disease, clotting, or immune disorders; Hudson had none of those.

The risk of stroke from birth through age 18 is about 11 in 100,000 children per year.

After the stroke was detected, we were quickly helicoptered to the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital via emergency medical air transport. The pilot and other two nurses on board were quiet, so nothing but the hum of the chopper’s blades filled my ears as we flew. Hudson was wrapped in a soft white blanket and I stroked his blond hair. I remember feeling eerily calm. My husband, a pastor, and I are people of faith, and as I gazed out at the moon, I had a sense of peace, like God was guiding us to safety.

In retrospect, I think I was also in shock. Up until that point, Hudson’s most serious injury had been a broken wrist from falling off the monkey bars at Back to School Night. In fact, the cast had just come off three days prior.

Once we arrived at UCSF, we headed to Pediatric ICU Room 10 and met the team in charge of managing Hudson’s care, including a neurologist, who confirmed the stroke. Hudson was not hit while playing with his brothers and there’s no reason to think football was a cause; we would later learn that the left middle cerebral artery of his brain had gradually declined due to a congenital malformation, which could have been prompted by a fever or a virus we weren’t even aware of. This caused a blood clot to form in the left side of his brain. (Also called an ischemic stroke.) The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, which is why he had initially been clutching his right arm, and why the right side of his body had looked lifeless in the first hospital.

Hudson and I after surgery.

COURTESY OF KERRY CROMWELL

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

The next 72 hours were critical; Hudson was stable, but there was potential for his brain to start swelling. If that happened, a portion of his skull would need to be removed to relieve the swelling. We had to watch and wait.

We kept the room dark to avoid overstimulating his brain. He mostly slept. When he was awake, we tried talking to him and reading his favorite books, like Where the Wild Things Are. But even two pages were enough to get his heart racing.

Hudson stopped breathing. A Code White — reserved for pediatric emergencies — was called.

On day three, I noticed Hudson seemed more restless and agitated than usual. But I told myself, Kerry, these are trained pediatric ICU nurses. Don’t be an angry Mama Bear nurse mom. Be respectful.

My instinct, though, had been correct. An hour later, Hudson stopped breathing. A Code White — reserved for pediatric emergencies — was called, and a dozen medical staffers flooded the room. My husband and I were ushered outside and forced to watch through floor-to-ceiling glass windows as Hudson was given a breathing tube, and a central line was inserted into his femoral artery to deliver medications that would decrease swelling and stabilize his blood pressure. The hospital chaplain and social worker arrived.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Somehow, Andrew and I did not break down. Given our professions, my husband and I are used to supporting other people, and we felt confident that God would help us keep it together. Yet as a mother I stood there, my feet heavy, my arms frozen, silently repeating, This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.

THE LONGEST 4 HOURS

The doctor told us he needed to view Hudson’s brain with a portable cat scan machine. There were two possible outcomes, he said. If the scan revealed swelling, Hudson would be whisked off to surgery to have a portion of his skull removed. This was the best possible outcome — he could survive brain swelling. But if the scan revealed a brain bleed … well, there’s no treatment for that. Our son would either die or be left permanently, catastrophically handicapped.

As the women began wheeling Hudson away, I stopped them and said, “Just one kiss.”

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

We stood next to Hudson’s bed as the black-and-white image of his brain appeared on the monitor. The doctor immediately said, “Call the OR.” Two anesthesiologists appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to ask us a few questions. As the women began wheeling Hudson away, I stopped them and said, “Just one kiss.” I kissed Hudson’s little forehead. And off he went.

Andrew and I waited for four punishingly long hours. That’s when we finally had our “we might lose our son” moment. We talked, we prayed, we embraced, and we just sat and stared, shell-shocked. We didn’t know if our child would come back to us.

When Hudson was wheeled back in, the top half of his head was wrapped in white gauze so we couldn’t see where the 5-by-7 inch flap of skull had been removed. A plastic baggie filled with his shaved hair lay near the foot of the bed. Eight tubes emerging from his nose, mouth, brain, and more kept him alive. He was put in a coma for 10 days to allow his brain to de-swell. While he was in the coma, he was quiet and seemed peaceful. But watching him like that nearly killed me.

When he woke up, he couldn’t talk or walk, and he no longer knew how to swallow or sit up on his own. We would need to start from scratch.

Hudson after surgery with his grandfather, Blake.

COURTESY OF KERRY CROMWELL

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

We were transferred back to Valley Children’s Healthcare, and the next month was a blur of exhausting physical, speech, and occupational therapy. A helmet protected his exposed brain 24/7 as he spent hours relearning the most basic of skills. But thanks to the incredible resilience of a healthy child’s body, it didn’t take long. About three weeks in, he would look at, say, a photo of children running and describe them as sitting, but by week five, he could locate the correct word.

Our other children, Chase, Payden, and Madeleine, visited often. They would play UNO with him to help with his color and number recognition, and take him outside in his wheelchair to play “tag” with my parents, who also came frequently. Afterward, his siblings would climb into his hospital bed with him, being mindful of his helmet and right side, and watch Phineas and Ferb together.

The Cromwell kids (from left): Chase, Madeleine, Payden, and Hudson.

COURTESY OF KERRY CROMWELL

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Hudson came home two days before Thanksgiving, no wheelchair necessary. (Though he needed someone next to him at all times in case he stumbled, as his brain was still exposed.) The skull flap was reattached on December 12 and by January of 2013, he was back to second grade, where his classmates welcomed their fragile friend with open arms.

OUR NEW NORMAL

Today, our boy is happy and strong, but life is not as it once was. A condition called foot drop means the muscles in his right foot are too weak to properly lift his toes while walking, so he wears an electrical stimulation device on his right leg called an L300 Go that sends an electrical pulse to his muscles and nerves, prompting them to lift his foot. It looks like a brace and allows him to be as active as he wants to be.

Hudson is in the eighth grade, but his reading comprehension lags about four years behind. He has trouble making friends because he can’t keep up with their conversations or sarcasm. An Individual Education Plan provides him with a school aide, and he receives extra help with literature and comprehension.

Surviving the last few years has actually been harder for me than navigating the initial crisis.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

I lost 10 pounds during that month in the hospital, but surviving the last few years has actually been harder for me than navigating the initial crisis itself. Most parents who have endured something like this will tell you that getting through the trauma and high intensity of the initial, catastrophic event is the easiest part. It’s the following year, when you’re still dealing with the same disabilities, the same rehab schedules, your child’s progress is stalling, you’re constantly fighting for resources to help them — that’s when you get worn down.

A few summers ago, I started having panic attacks and experiencing social anxiety. Counseling helped, as has trying to treat myself with compassion. It’s okay to be sad or mad; I don’t always have to try to be supermom. But it’s been trying for me as his mother to not compare Hudson to who he was pre-stroke. I need to constantly monitor my worries about his future: Will he get married? Will he be able to hold a job that pays the bills?

The Cromwell family

The Cromwell family

AMIE STIPECH

Stepping up as Hudson’s advocate has helped. For example, at one point, in 2015, he seemed bored with his weekly therapy — rolling out play-dough to help his fine motor skills wasn’t cutting it. So I decided to enroll him in a local martial arts academy. The owner had had a stroke at 35 and his daughter, a black belt in karate, helped him rehab. She agreed to work one-on-one with Hudson, using 10-year-old-friendly items like nunchucks and video game controllers to exercise his right hand.

Advocating for him has also reignited my passion as a nurse. My ability to empathize grew immeasurably, and two years ago I left my administrative role to help create a palliative care program for patients living with chronic illness.

Hudson is a pediatric stroke survivor — that is our new normal. We were shocked this could happen to any child, let alone ours. In a way, though, I’m grateful for all we’ve learned through the process: How to cope, how to stick together, how to lean on one another. I hope other parents read this and feel encouraged and empowered to advocate for their own children in the face of adversity. No one knows your kid better than you. During that first week in rehab, when Hudson spoke his first word, it reconfirmed my faith that we would all be okay.

It was “Mom.”

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a22519169/pediatric-stroke-kerry-cromwell/

P.S We are always on the the lookout for lifestyle solutions for our readers! If you are interested in safely detoxing, cleansing, and/or losing weight Visit Here for more information ALSO Get Our FREE Natural Cures Ebook Enter Your info Here slimladyteahttps://blog.slimladytea.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/my-little-boy-was-just-7-years-old-when-he-had-a-catastrophic-stroke-761x1024.pnghttps://blog.slimladytea.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/my-little-boy-was-just-7-years-old-when-he-had-a-catastrophic-stroke-150x150.pngblogslimladyHealth & Wellnessbelly fat,cleanse,detox,lose belly fat,lose weight,weight lossIf you could meet our 12-year-old son Hudson today, you'd probably never guess that he had a stroke six years ago. On the outside, he looks like any other kid his age: He swims, plays soccer, and zips around the block on his scooter. But after a few minutes...Entertainment, Wellness, And More.....