Shaken

ADDITION – JULY 2019

STEVE TEARE, at age 65.

The most common ocular manifestations of shaking injury are diffuse and multi-depth retinal hemorrhages in 85 percent of shaken babies.

Bleeding can be inside one or both eyes.

My childhood retinal damage is in one eye.

Retinal hemorrhage (intraocular bleedings) is a disorder of the eye in which bleeding occurs in the retina, the light sensitive tissue, located on the back wall of the eye. There are photoreceptor cells in the retina called rods and cones, which transduce light energy into nerve signals that can be processed by the brain to form visual images.

Retinal hemorrhages are significantly associated with abusive head traumas (AHT). The mechanism of the trauma is believed to be repeated acceleration and deceleration with or without blunt impact (shaken baby syndrome).

A retinal hemorrhage is generally diagnosed by using an ophthalmoscope or fundus camera in order to examine the inside of the eye. A fluorescein angiography test may be conducted, in which a fluorescent dye is often injected into the patient’s bloodstream beforehand so the administering ophthalmologist can have a more detailed view and examination on the blood vessels in the retina.

Photo of a healthy retina.

Unexplained retinal damage was discovered in my right eye at age 63. An overzealous ophthalmologist was eager to play with his new fundus camera. He put florescent dye in my eyes and took a picture. It was the first time anyone was concerned or mentioned my retinal damage. He asked if I used to stare at the sun as a kid. Nope.

He tested it again the next year. It was still there.

A fundus camera.

This is bleeding in areas of the retina from violent whiplash. It’s whiplash symptoms from shaken infant syndrome. It’s a form of abusive head trauma.

Those studying child-abuse emphasize that such hemorrhaging as a result of a fall is very rare.

Twice, I’ve had ophthalmological examination revealing retinal hemorrhaging (previous bleeding at the back of the eyes). The scars are there in my right eye but unseen except with special equipment.

Shaken baby syndrome (or abusive head trauma) occurs when a parent or caregiver severely shakes a baby or toddler. This is due to frustration or anger — often because a child won’t stop crying.

Parents experiencing stress are more prone to impulsive and violent behavior. Those involved with domestic violence and substance abuse may be at higher risk of inflicting this abuse.

Obviously, my dad was the perpetrator. This trauma would be the night I “accidentally” bounced out of my crib and knocked myself out in my parent’s room at Granny’s house. That was my Dad’s story. He probably thought he killed me. I was at least 1.5 years old – but younger than 2 years old.

Incessant crying is the primary stimulus leading to a frustrated caregiver losing control. When the baby cries it’s interpreted as a shaming indictment of inferior parenting skills.

When dropped the force level to the brain shoots up after shaking children, even if they hit a soft surface like a bed or a couch.

This mixture of physical and emotional parental exhaustion, coupled with what seems to be never-ending crying, can push many over the edge. For some caregivers, physical punishment represents the only way to free themselves of their frustrations.

One-quarter to one-third of babies sent home from medical injury misattributed to an accident will come back with another serious injury or, in some cases, death.

Conditions that accompany SBS include bone fractures, injury to the cervical spine (in the neck), retinal bleeding, cerebral bleed or atrophy, hydrocephalus, and papilledema (swelling of the optic disc).

I attended Thursday night recovery group on 25th July 2019. Afterwards while driving home, my arm and shoulder hurt. I knew from physical therapy the year before (after travelling) that the pain was related to my neck. When my PTSD would occur, it started nerve pains shooting down my arm and my left shoulder would knot up the muscles.

I wondered, “How did I injure my neck? I’ve never been in a car accident nor sport injury or anything like that.”

The only medical evidence of shaken-baby syndrome is the triad of internal symptoms: subdural and retinal hemorrhage and brain swelling. Parents of children exhibiting the triad have, in addition to losing custody, have been jailed or sentenced to death. A diagnosis carries legal consequences for the parents.

Shaken baby injuries usually occur in children younger than 2 years old. These children are the most vulnerable for many reasons, including their dependency, small size, and inability to defend themselves. Injuries include damage to the neck, spine, and eyes. Spinal, head and neck injuries often result from violently shaking young children.

Sleep apnea syndrome is a disorder of abnormal respiration during sleep that results in a combination of oxygen deficiency and excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Shaken baby syndrome produces concussion or injury of the cervical spinal cord and/or brainstem. These may result in apnea.

I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and use a mask, hose, and machine to assist my breathing. I’ve been doing that for over 17 years. Is it from Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Two-thirds of abusive head injury victims have residual long-term complications such as neck injury or brain damage.

Most babies with the triad of shaken-baby symptoms suffer not from a rupture of the nerve fibers of the brain but rather from a lack of blood caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain’s cells.

Neck injuries, which could indicate shaking, go undetected. Forceful shaking can severely injure or kill an infant, this is because the spinal neck bones would be severely injured.

The night of the group meeting, I went to bed around 10 or 11 pm. At 4am, I awoke. I was wide awake and clear. My mind said, “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” I lay there wondering for a bit and then got up and researched it on the Internet. I discovered I have most of the telltale signs. Evidence in my body like a breadcrumb trail leading to the truth.

Small fragments of bone are torn off where the dense layer of vascular connective tissue envelopes and covers the bone where tightly bound together. Bones on both the inside and outside of a joint are affected, especially at the knee.

In the last two years, I developed sharp pain on the sides of both knees, inside and out making it so I can’t travel in a car without a pillow between my knee and the door panel wall on either side.

Whiplash injuries can include damage to the joints between the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, muscles, or nerve roots. Do these heal? Yes. Most do. But scars or disability often remain.

Symptoms reported by whiplash sufferers include: pain and aching to the neck and back, referred pain to the shoulders, sensory disturbance (such as pins and needles) to the arms and legs, and headaches. Referred pain is discomfort felt in a part of the body other than its actual source. That is what I’ve experienced in my shoulder in arm for the last 4 years. The actual damage is in my neck. It diminishes as my stress level decrease. It’s a barometer. It was left in my body to bring these memories to the front of my mind – a strange gift from God.

When did this childhood trauma happen, most likely 1956. The same year I won the Baby Inland Empire Contest. The irony!

Steve Teare (right) wins Baby Inland Empire content 1956. Living with parents and grandparents in Viola, Idaho. Son of Iwan and Claudia Teare.