ORIGINALLY WRITTEN MARCH 14TH 2014
“I feel like I’m dreaming but I’m awake.” Those were Brooke’s words last Wednesday night. I asked her to explain better and this is what she said, “Sometimes when I’m playing, I don’t feel like it’s me. I feel like it’s someone else and I’m dreaming.”
I asked her how often this happens (because she had said something like this several weeks ago and I figured she was just feeling tired so had her go rest and it was never mentioned again)….she said it happens a lot. Hmmm.
It happened in math class earlier that day. She said she had to ask the boy next to her if she was dreaming or if she was really in math class and looking at math papers. Of course he replied yes- it’s real.
She said it happened two more times that afternoon while playing at a friends’ house. I asked her what she ate, and she mentioned some sugary things (I don’t recall what exactly besides fruit) and I asked her what she ate for lunch (she had pizza and cantaloupe). There was nothing terribly alarming.
I know she consumes a lot of sugar and ‘snacks’….the kid eats every hour or two it seems like. I’ve supplied her with apples and cheesesticks and carrots and bananas, but she also eats kids Z Bars, granola and nut mix, and less-nutritious granola and cereal bars. And of course she eats at least one (if not three) bowls of cereal every day.
I decided to Google “my child feels like dreaming but is awake” and was surprised how common of an ailment this is! For her age (she’s 8, but the responses were more like ages 10-13) the common responses were anxiety or migraines. So I asked her if she’s getting headaches when this happens and she said sometimes. And sometimes she can’t see right, like her eyes are blurry. And she asked if I could take her to the doctor.
Other diagnoses included anemia or epilepsy, specifially “temporal lobe epilepsy”. And the term for “dreaming but awake” is depersonalization and derealization. Commonly associated with axiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia and epilepsy.
So that has me a little concerned. The kid has never had any seizures or anything that would remotely come close to me thinking she could be epileptic. Nor does she have any symptoms of being bi-polar or schizophrenic. And if it’s migraine related….that’s a tough girl to keep playing and working through migraines.
There’s clearly something askew here. I called her doctor’s office Thursday morning relaying a symptom of “feeling like she’s dreaming but she’s awake” and they were able to get her in the following Tuesday.
In the meantime, while we waited, I checked in with her every day to see what she experienced that particular day, and when, and what she ate or what she was doing when it happened and how her body felt, etc.
On Tuesday March 11th, we saw the doctor and the preliminary diagnosis is migraines or pre-migraines. Brooke commented that she had a small headache on Friday, another one on Sunday and another on Monday. They only last about 5 minutes and aren’t painful enough that she feels like she needs to say anything. No stabbing pain, just an allover ache. And since not every headache turns into an episode, we weren’t sure what to think of it. The doctor did a physical and checked things like vision, response and reaction, memory, balance, etc and Brooke passed with flying colors. But since this IS an odd thing she does want her to be seen by a Neurologist just to make sure there’s nothing seriously wrong, but she said she doesn’t really see any serious concerns.
In the meantime we are to keep a journal to document her episodes.
UPDATE: We did see a Neurologist and she couldn’t find anything “wrong” to be able to target or narrow down a diagnosis. Brooke passed all the physical and mental tests that the doctor administered, which ruled out a lot of things, but left the doctor baffled.
Since it seems that Brooke’s episodes are easily triggered during reading class (when presented with a large sheet of information with lots of words on it), she suggested we have a MRI done, having Brooke do a lot of reading to try to trigger the brain activity.
Magically, after seeing the doctor, her episodes went away. I’ve spoken with her to make sure she’s not faking it now, or was she faking it before, but either way she says everything is fine now.