When two parents went into their toddler’s room one morning, they realized something was strange. The usually energetic boy was not bouncing up and down in bed or running around the room with his arm in his pant leg. Collin, 3, was lying in bed gazing up at his parents.
That’s when they realized the horrific truth. Their boy was paralyzed. Dillon and Stephanie didn’t want to believe it. But when Collin could not stand and had trouble walking they admitted that the worst case scenario had manifested.
Collin had hit his head the night before during his brother’s baseball game. But could it be a concussion? The little boy had gotten back up and kept going like nothing was the matter. Neither Dillion nor Stephanie thought to consider the ramifications of ignoring their boy’s head injury…
They didn’t think their son had a concussion. But he could articulate his feelings and they knew something was wrong. He couldn’t walk after all!
Without waiting for answers, they rushed Collin to the emergency room. Tests quickly confirmed that the 3-year-old DID NOT have a brain injury. His paralysis had not been brought on by parental neglect, this truth made Dillion and Stephanie feel immensely relieved. But their son was still paralyzed. They needed more answers…
“The only thing he could do was breathe,” Dillon said.
The boy’s condition worsened. Now he couldn’t move from the neck down. He struggled to eat and drink.
Because his oxygen levels kept dropping, the doctors ordered a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. That came back negative.
“It was really hard to see my son paralyzed. And he was getting worse and worse,” the boy’s father said.
Collin’s parents begged doctors to transfer him to a bigger hospital.
Doctors at the new hospital said if he had arrived just 30-minutes later, her would have gone into sudden cardiac arrest – and he might not have made it.
“My husband and I decided to have him transferred to a children’s hospital in Memphis. The doctors told us that if we’d have been thirty minutes later, he would have went into cardiac arrest. I thought I was going to lose him.”
Then the answer was revealed. Collin had had a tick. Yes, a tick. And it was slowly killing the boy.
The tick was found behind his ear. Soon after it was removed, the boy regained mobility.
While tick bites are common ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that tick paralysis is a rare reaction to the parasite’s saliva. It is not related to Lyme disease.
“This neurotoxin hangs out in their salivary glands,” Dr. Travis says, “so while the tick is feeding, that neurotoxin gets into, in this case, Collin’s blood and that leads to what we call an ascending paralysis, which initially starts with the legs and an inability to walk.”
While tick paralysis is horrifying and debilitating, once it is removed the symptoms start to disappear.
“The minute the tick is removed, shortly thereafter, symptoms will start to improve,” he adds.
In the video clip below, featured on The Doctors, you’ll hear more about Collin’s story and learn more about tick paralysis.
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