Jul 12, 2013 3 Share

Mystery Illness

Illustration of man's face looking ill.

Cody used to have a habit of eating too fast and not chewing his food properly. When he engaged in this behavior his food would not digest well which resulted in him becoming sick.

It was a tough habit for him for him to break but he finally did. Over the last six months he has eaten without becoming ill afterward.

Cody is also very susceptible to becoming dehydrated during the summer. I have been able to catch the early warning signs and that’s when I begin to push the water, Popsicles and Gatorade and it isn’t long before he’s a happy camper once again.

But three weeks ago a frightening episode happened. Cody had been getting ready to go to his day program. I walked past his bathroom and noticed him standing in the doorway looking out with a blank stare. He was pale and began to stumble. I ran and put my arms around him. Cody leaned hard on me with his chin resting on my shoulder.

I tried to get him to move toward his bedroom but he couldn’t. He was unable to verbally respond to me. Then without warning his knees buckled and we both sank to the floor.

Last year Cody had experienced a similar spell. But then he had a urinary tract infection and a nasty stomach virus which we all came down with a couple of days later. So I thought sure this was another viral infection.

Once I helped him dress, we went to the emergency room where they administered IV fluids, did a full blood panel, CAT Scan, EKG and a urinalysis. Dehydration was the only diagnosis the attending physician could give us. And after receiving the IV fluids he was back to his normal, perky self again.

For the next three days we watched Cody closely. There were no signs of illness. The following Monday I took him to his day program. But a couple hours passed and I received a call from the staff stating Cody had thrown up and said he was not feeling well.

I picked him up and thought perhaps all the activities were a bit too much too soon. I kept him home the following Thursday as well to give his body more time to fully recover.

That week I saw no signs of illness. So the following Monday morning we headed for Cody’s day program once again. I dropped him off and had not made it two blocks before there was another phone call stating Cody had thrown up. I couldn’t believe it.

I went back to the facility. Upon arrival Cody seemed fine. I asked him if he wanted to stay. He said yes. I discussed it with staff and it was agreed I would take him to get clean clothes then bring him back.

All seemed well for about an hour and then another phone call came. Cody had thrown up again. This time I went to get him and take him home. While there, the staff supervisor and I discussed getting a release from Cody’s doctor before he returned to the program.

Cody had an appointment Tuesday as a follow up for his visit to the ER so I gave his doctor the rundown on what has taken place over the last few of weeks.

I told him about the fact that these bouts of illness have all taken place at his day program or on days when he was supposed to go. Is there something there that is making him sick? But if that’s the case he’s not telling us. On the contrary he says he likes it there. Or perhaps it is just over excitement from it all.

Cody’s doctor did the standard vitals and did not see anything out of the norm. He didn’t feel more blood work was necessary given the fact that he was able to view the results from the tests that were done in the ER. He said instead that he would rather Cody waited for a couple of weeks to return to his day program just to be sure. Then if Cody has no other symptoms he would issue a release and he could return then.  I hope and pray the next two weeks go without any more episodes of sickness and he can return to life as normal. 

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So sorry, I forgot to tell you that my name is Tracy and my son's name is Bradley.  He is 19 with autism.



Has Cody had an EEG to rule out the possibility of seizures?  My son had the exact symptoms and no one could figure out the problem until I insisted on a referral to a neurologist for at least a 6 hour EEG.  He has seizures which are controlled now with meds and diet.


Migraines? My nonverbal son

Migraines? My nonverbal son used to throw up after riding the bus in the summertime, and occasionally at other times as well. My oldest daughter always complained that the heat gave her headaches, so that was our first clue. After we started driving him and picking him up (in a car with AC), cut out caffeine and regulated his sleep the best we could, the vomiting stopped. The dizziness/stumbling you described made me think of migraines, too. Another guess would be self-induced vomiting, but that wouldn't explain the stumbling and paleness. Hope you find the answer!