Trent Smith Opens Up about Unforeseen Health Scare

A guest column by Trent Smith

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Trent Smith Opens Up about Unforeseen Health Scare

Trent Smith, Guest Column

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September 6, 2018 around 8:45 p.m. — I guess you could say one of the scariest nights of my life. I was taking a couple of my friend’s home after youth group, after I dropped them off, something wasn’t right. I started feeling hot, at one point my heart was skipping a few beats. I didn’t really do anything about it as I just assumed that I was tired/stressed because it was down to the last final weeks of Children’s Theater, so I just shrugged it off and went on my way home. 5-10 minutes later, I noticed that my legs were starting to go numb, almost like I couldn’t feel them. That’s when I knew that something was going on. All of a sudden my hands began to shake uncontrollably, my head was spinning, everything seemed slow. Next thing I know, my parents show up, finding me sitting in my car, barely conscious.

At the time I had no clue what was going on, neither did they, but now it was kind of obvious. I passed out. So my dad attempted to pull me out of my car and get into their car, but my legs weren’t working. Five minutes later of dragging me out of my car, we went on our way home. So we got home, they sat me down on the couch. I was starting to get feeling back in my legs, my hands on the other hand, were still shaking. My parents refused to take me to the E.R. that night because they said I was just “exhausted,” or “stressed.” So I went on to bed for the night. The next morning, I went to school feeling like myself, (and if you know me, you know how I act on a “normal” day), but then something started happening during 1st hour. The same type of feelings came back as the night before, my legs, my head, my hands, they were all starting to come back. So I immediately went to the school nurse, Mrs. Abby Gregg, who is one amazing person and I thank her for all that she’s done for me, so I turned the corner about to head downstairs, and I just stopped. I stood there looking at the stair for what it felt like 2 minutes. I took one step, and I just about went down. Luckily, I caught myself on the rail, and I was able to walk the rest of the way to the nurse’s office. I got there and I explained what was going on. She soon called my mom and then relayed to her what was going on. Twenty minutes later, I was on my way to SSM/Good Samaritan Hospital. We got there, and we were quickly sent back to a triage room. We got back there and we explained what was going on. About 30 minutes later the doctor came in and took a look at me. She later explained to us that it was all just a simple, “Panic Attack”. So they gave me some medicine called, Valium, which is supposed to calm the body and the nerves. fifteen minutes later, I was out. So I went back to school a couple of hours later to pick the rest of my stuff up. I went on home and rested the rest of the night, around 4:45, it happened again. Luckily, I was already in bed, and they only last around five minutes. I woke up, not remembering anything during or anything prior to it, I texted my mom. My mom then told me just to relax a little bit, so I did. Around 6:30, my 12-year-old brother found me lying on the top of the stairs, hands shaking uncontrollably, breathing heavily. He then quickly went and told my parents and they got me up and sat me down. Like I said before, I don’t really remember anything prior or during it, but I did notice my mom on the phone with someone, balling her eyes out. So they then took me straight back to the E.R. We arrived there and I had to be taken in by a wheelchair because I couldn’t feel my legs. Next thing I know, as we were sitting in the waiting area, waiting for a room, friends from our church showed up, and then all of a sudden, I see Cullen Asbery, Grant Decker, Nick Sursa and Caitlyn McDannel walk in. They came up and asked how I was doing and all that, and they waited with us until we got back into our room around 2 hours later.

Around 8:30, we got back into the room, explaining to them what had happened and we all discovered this wasn’t just a “panic attack;” this was something much deeper. They then decided to send us to Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis, but they gave us two options. 1. Stay here and wait for an ambulance to take us there, but it would take 12 hours just to get one to Good Sam and then take us there. 2. My parents took me at the risk of having another “episode” while in the car. Not to mention that there was another patient at SSM waiting for an ambulance for 27 hours. This was a tough decision, but about 15 minutes later, we decided just to take our own personal vehicle. Our friends from church offered to take us there because they knew we were all pretty well exhausted from all of this and my parents were exhausted because of work.

So if you’re reading this, we thank you so much for all that you do. So we were on our way around 10:15. Luckily, I did not have another episode while we were traveling. We arrived to Cardinal Glennon around midnight. We got back into a room around 2:30, they hooked me up to an IV. We explained to the, what was going on, and about 2 hours later, they finally admitted us into the hospital. We got into our room at around 4:30. They told me to get some rest and then we’ll talk later that morning. I woke up around 8-ish, and then all of a sudden i see about 13 doctors in my room at once. And I’m thinking, “what in the world is going on.” But then I realized that Cardinal Glennon is a teaching hospital, so they were all learning as they were talking to me. They then decided to run some tests on me, first it was an EKG, electrocardiography, which is a test to record the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time, then it was an EEG, Electroencephalography, which is a monitoring method to record activity of the brain, then an Orthostatic Hypotension test, which is a test to record my blood pressure in various positions i.e. sitting up, laying down, standing up.

So that overall took about 3 hours, they all came back negative, so that was good news, but bad news, because we still had no clue what was going on. Later that day, the doctor came in, explaining all the possibilities on what this could be, so it was down to one, Vasovagal Syncope, basically there is something in my brain that sends signals to my heart and nervous system causing my heart rate to fluctuate, hands to shake, and lose feeling in my legs. So that’s what they diagnosed me with, unfortunately, there is no medicine for me to take to make this any better, so they just told me to drink more water and take care of myself more. So we went on home and all was good for about a week. But it kept happening. These episodes kept happening more and more frequent. I noticed myself taking at least two to three trips a day to the nurse’s office, having these symptoms. I was in the there for at least an hour each day laying down because I couldn’t feel my legs. It was getting to the point where it was getting worse. At first I couldn’t remember anything fifteen minutes prior to these episodes, now it was going up to 1 hour. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what to do. I was lost.

My parents decided to take me back to Cardinal Glennon. We immediately went to see a Neurologist there and explained to them that these episodes were getting worse. We got to talking to her and they had me stay overnight again. They decided to do an MRI on me, 45 minutes later, it came back negative, so that was also good news, but bad news, because again, we had no clue what was going on.

About 3 hours later they came back into the room and gave us another diagnostic, Acephalgic migraines, which is basically a migraine but without the pain, which could lead to me passing out. So they gave me medicine for it ­­— Topamax — a seizure medicine that can treat and prevent it. They gave me a low dosage because they didn’t think I was having full on seizures. It was just for the “headaches”. They then scheduled me an appointment to see another Neurologist on November 4th. So we went on home.

A couple weeks went by, with the medicine helping, I was having less frequent episodes. I was still losing feeling in my legs but that was just a side effect to the medicine. So fast forward to last Friday. We went to see the Neurologist, we got there and we were talking and now they are saying it is back to Vasovagal Syncope. But they said that the main reason what was causing it was stress/anxiety. So they came to the conclusion on having me go see a psychologist about all of this. And I’m going to be honest with you, I have no clue what to do.

To this point, I still struggle with losing feeling in my legs, dizziness, etc.  But I am not going to let all of this define who I am. I am still the same person as I was before all this madness happened. This is all in God’s hands. And I am going to simply just trust in Him.