When he’s feeling well, Joshua Forester is a funny 11-year-old who loves to read, write stories and ride his scooter. When migraines hit, they can sideline him for days.
“Joshua started getting migraines at age 2,” his mom, Katy, said. “He would throw up and writhe on the floor in pain.”
The migraines can affect Joshua’s head, abdomen or both at the same time. When he experiences migraines, he gets less sleep. The reduced sleep impacts his mood and motivation to return to school. When he has an abdominal migraine, he doesn’t want to eat as much for fear he will vomit or worsen the pain.
Joshua had been getting gastrointestinal and neurological care to reduce the migraine frequency, but something was still missing. “Joshua missed a total of three months of school during the 2017-18 year. My husband, Chris, and I felt hopeless,” Katy recalled. “We knew there had to be something more we could do. We didn’t stop looking. It just took us a while to find the help we needed.”
That help came in the form of the Akron Children’s Hospital Pain Center. “We started caring for Joshua in May 2018, after another hospital referred him to us,” said Clinical Nurse Specialist Betsy Kendrick. “We started with a full workup on Joshua to rule out any other medical issues. Then we got to work on helping him manage his migraine pain.”
Joshua receives multiple services at the Akron Children’s Pain Center, including medication management and massage therapy. He recently “graduated” from the psychology component of care. “Joshua got the psychological help he needed – and at the perfect time,” Katy shared. “He’s 11 years old now. He can apply what he’s learned in therapy so that, by the time he’s an adult, he’ll mentally flip through the coping mechanisms and apply what technique works best.”
In addition to in-center treatment, the pain team recommended physical activity for Joshua. He likes golf and bowling, and he does yoga every morning before school. He also gets his heart rate up with various cardio activities.
With a new school year underway, Joshua has a pain management plan in place. He has coping apps on his phone, and he can go to the nurse’s office to use a few apps when he’s hurting. “Even if his pain is a 10 on a 10-point scale, he has to stay in school unless he throws up,” Katy explained. “We want him to learn to work through the pain.”
Since coming to the Akron Children’s Pain Center, Joshua has only had one migraine in his head. He has a care plan tailored to his needs and personality. Katy gets all of the treatment notes, so she can refresh her memory and help Joshua at home. “We’re really grateful to the Pain Center team,” she shared. “They are not only helping Joshua feel better, but they involve Chris and me as parents.”
A patient like Joshua demonstrates the coordination of care the Akron Children’s Pain Center offers. “He’s a great kid from an adorable family,” Betsy said. “We’re happy to provide an array of services for Joshua, so he can enjoy an active life with his family and friends.”