KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A teenager and her mom are driving more than 300 miles from Arkansas to Kansas City for what they call a miracle treatment.
With migraines so bad that 17-year-old Sonja Burnett said she could barely walk anymore, every single mile of the trek will be worth it.
“Everything from writing my name or reading books to even just sleeping, it was all torn away in disarray.” Sonja said.
The teen had become unrecognizable to the women who had spent all these years raising her.
“A child who laughed and danced and sang around the house, a happy go lucky young lady — and she went to a zombie,” her mother Meredith Burnett said.
All of a sudden, Sonja, who was 12 at the time, turned into a shell of the little girl she used to be.
“She would slip and fall and hit the pictures because she couldn’t walk a straight line,” her mother said. “All the smiles and laughter disappeared slowly piece by piece as the migraines took over.”
After nearly 4 years of not leaving her room, no school, no band, no time with friends — and after going to hospital after hospital, clinic after clinic, and specialist after specialist with no answer — Sonja and her mother said they became desperate.
”I honestly just wanted my life back,” Sonja said.
“I didn’t mind driving 300 miles or 3,000 miles if she could get a day where she had any kind of relief, Meredith said.
That’s when the team at Children’s Mercy Hospital, one of only a handful of headache clinics in the region, stepped in, learning Sonja’s migraine problem isn’t isolated.
“[It] affects about 10% of all kids and even in high school, closer to 25-28%. So this is this is a real big problem,” said Dr. Trevor Gerson of Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Migraines are the sixth most disabling illness in the world, experts say.
Now, the answer for Sonja is a new device authorized only in the last 2 years.
“The Nerivio, it’s an armband that she wears when she gets migraines, and it can stop the attack,” Gerson said. “And for her it’s incredibly effective.”
And the happy girl that had disappeared was suddenly back.
“We started being a family again. I got some of those things back, those moments and memories that I missed out on,” Sonja said.
She’s back doing everything that she loves. Gerson said the biggest take away is there is always hope and to never give up.