Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Anyone out there faint as a kid?

Matthew has this quirk. When tired, or really hungry, or totally out of his element, he tends to cry a lot (not unusual in a 2 year old, I know). But, combined with hurting himself or feeling like he was unjustly treated, Matthew holds his breath until he turns blue, and sometimes he holds it for so long that he actually passes out. The longest he has stayed unconscious is about 20 seconds or so, and of course as soon as he passes out his brain tells his body to breathe again and he does. He wakes up sleepy and sometimes with a headache, and very docile and cuddly. He used to do this several times a day when he first came to our family, but has since gone through several stages where he didn't do it for 9 or 10 weeks, and then will do it more often...right now, I'd say once a month or so? Sometimes I can talk him out of the breath holding zone, and sometimes all I can do is just lie him down on his back so he doesn't fall or hit his head. His eyes roll back, he gets dusky looking skin, and his whole body twitches until he is deep enough in unconsciousness that he takes a breath, and then his body relaxes and a few seconds later he wakes up.

I had a cousin who held her breath until she was blue when she got mad, and I used to babysit her a lot and she did it sometimes, but she never fainted. I've heard of other kids who do this too, but it's not very common. My doctor said it's not harmful and that he'll grow out of it. Jane (our friend from Thailand, see 2 posts previous) said there have been a few children come through her orphanage who do this, one in particular who did used to pass out, but nothing bad ever came of it. But then my mom gets me worried every time we talk about it because she asks, 'are you sure your doctor says it's okay?' Even though she knows I'm not lying about it. So then I get worried.

Yesterday morning I was in the shower and Matthew ran into the bathroom to tell me something, slipped on a piece of paper, fell, and bonked his head on the floor. It was midmorning, which is his least tired time of day, and I don't think he was hungry or anything, so he must have bonked it pretty hard, because he started to cry and held his breath. Then he was trying to get up and kept slipping on the paper (as I'm slowly realizing what's going on and trying to get out of the shower to help him) so he got even MADDER, and he held his breath longer than he ever has before; this was the worst fainting episode he's ever had. I know as a paramedic that brain cells survive without oxygen for 4-6 minutes without damage, and Matthew usually faints after 35-40 seconds, so his brain is okay. Yesterday he held his breath for about 50 seconds...I didn't really count it but it felt longer than any other time, so I'm guessing it as about that length of time.

So my post today is a question: anyone else do this as a kid? Or have a sister/brother/cousin who did this? Anyone heard of some strange, dangerous disorder or condition associated with it? I think I may take him back to my Dr. but I have a feeling she's just going to be annoyed that I brought her this problem again when she told me it was nothing before. Any thoughts as to what I should do? One of my friends told me HER friend used to do it when they were kids and her dad would put her in a cold shower and slap her to try and snap her out of it, but it only made it worse. For Matthew also, any attempts to 'snap' him out of it with loud noises or yelling only makes him worse, so no suggestions on that vein, okay?! Thanks!

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