When one mother began suffering from excruciating headaches, she had no idea what was causing them. Moreover, after nine months of pain, her doctors feared she had a tumor. However, when they conducted a scan they saw eight tiny eggs instead.
Yadira Rostro comes from the city of Garland in Texas. There, she was a busy mom just like any other. However, at the beginning of 2015 the 31-year-old began to suffer health difficulties that would affect her entire way of life.
Indeed, that was when Rostro began suffering from chronic headaches. Furthermore, the pain was so acute that it even started to affect her eyesight. However, she was at a loss as to what was causing the discomfort.
So, understandably, the pain began to worry Rostro. “I started having headaches several times. Sometimes my sight was impaired and I could not see properly,” she later revealed to ABC affiliate WFAA.
As a result, Rostro was determined to get to the bottom of what was happening to her. So, she contacted the Methodist Dallas Medical Center. There, doctors conducted a CT scan to see what the problem was.
At first, doctors believed that Rostro may have been suffering from a brain tumor. Indeed, when her scans came back, they did confirm an abnormality. However, it didn’t appear to be cancer, as the medical team had first believed.
Doctors could clearly see that Rostro had an obstruction that was preventing spinal fluid from flowing into her brain. So, first they inserted a catheter to relieve the pressure. Then, they conducted a more in-depth MRI scan to work out exactly what was causing the blockage.
That’s when they discovered something that would shock them to the core. There, on the monitor, surgeons could see a group of sacs at the base of Rostro’s brain. Even worse, they looked like tapeworm eggs.
After consulting an infectious disease specialist, surgeons got to work on removing the larvae. They sedated Rostro before removing part of her skull to reveal the base of her brain. There, as expected, they subsequently found six to eight tapeworm eggs.
“We did an incision at the base of the skull removing part of her skull, splitting the cerebellum,” neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Meyrat told the Houston Chronicle. “Right then [we] could see the sacs [of tapeworm larvae] at the base of the brain stem.” The medical team then removed all the eggs with the help of a microscope.
Amazingly, medical staff captured the whole procedure on film. Describing what he had found, Meyrat told USA Today, “They looked a little bit like eggs. They have a clear sac and, inside it, a small tapeworm.”
Although Rostro knew about the incredible footage of her surgery, she decided against watching it herself. “I think she’s just happy to be alive,” Meyrat said. “Her headaches are gone, and she’s feeling better.”
Moreover, although he’s an experienced surgeon, the whole experience will also stay with Meyrat forever. “It shocked me,” he admitted to the Houston Chronicle. “It was certainly out of the ordinary, something I had not seen in a very long time. But I’m glad we got her in time and could save her life.”
As the eggs had grown in Rostro’s brain, they had blocked essential fluids from entering the skull. This in turn had caused the mom’s excruciating headaches. So, Rostro was no doubt relieved to get to the bottom of her problems and finally lead a pain-free existence again.
Following her terrifying ordeal, Rostro gave some thought to what had happened. She later stated that she believed she’d caught her tapeworms on a family holiday to Mexico two years earlier. Rostro said that she might have eaten contaminated food there. So, the parasite had then traveled through her bloodstream and into her brain.
Tapeworm infections like Rostro’s usually occur in rural regions, according to the World Health Organization. However, people can also catch them by eating undercooked meats. In addition, water or food that has been in contact with an infected animal or person can also pose a risk.
Although tapeworm infections are relatively uncommon in the U.S., they are not completely unheard of. In fact, on average each year around 1,000 Americans will find themselves hospitalized with the ailment. Moreover, effective treatment is extremely costly.
As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has described it as a “tremendous economic burden.” That’s because the average treatment cost of a tapeworm infection is an eye-watering $37,600.
Neurocysticercosis, the infection Rostro’s tapeworm caused, can be incredibly dangerous. In 2010 more than 1,000 people died as a result of the infection globally. Moreover, in the U.S. the illness killed 221 people in the years between 1990 and 2002.
Nevertheless, Rostro is now well on the way to making a full recovery. Moreover, she’ll be forever thankful that surgeons caught the tapeworm infection before it was too late. “I’m very grateful to God that I’m in his hands,” she told WFAA.
Headaches, it seems, can be a good indicator to show whether certain foods have caused harm to a person’s health. Take, for example, Beth Paulette’s story. You see, when her sons began suffering from awful headaches, she just couldn’t work out what was causing them. But when the boys sent her photos from their school cafeteria, everything suddenly clicked into place.
Like many mothers, Beth Paulette aims to provide her sons with a nutritious and healthy diet. And so when her boys began suffering horrific headaches, she had no idea what was causing them. But then a photograph of her kids’ school meals explained all.
Paulette and her family lived in King and Queen County, Virginia, where her two teenage sons both attended King and Queen Central High School. For the most part, the boys were relatively healthy kids.
In 2015, however, that all changed. Both of Paulette’s sons began suffering from horrific headaches. Soon, in fact, the migraines became an everyday occurrence for the boys, and naturally their mom grew concerned.
A number of factors can cause migraines, including stress, disrupted sleep patterns, dehydration and a lack of proper nutrition. But poor Paulette had no idea what was causing her sons’ headaches.
Then, however, the concerned mom had a breakthrough. When Paulette’s sons began texting her from school, attached to their messages were images from the school canteen. And what they depicted sickened the worried parent to her stomach.
The images revealed that the food at the boys’ school was less than appetizing. In fact, it was in dire need of improvement. From the pictures, it looked like many of the items on the menu were dished up severely burned, and Paulette’s sons had been served pizzas and ribs that were charred beyond recognition.
Looking at the pictures, Paulette couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “They’re awful,” she told WTVR CBS 6 in 2015. “[My] two boys are coming home daily with migraines because they can’t eat what’s on their plates at school.”
Indeed, there was every chance that the substandard food may have been causing her sons’ headaches. According to the American Nutrition Association, hunger can be a major cause of migraines, as they can be triggered by low sugar levels.
Low blood sugar – or hypoglycemia, to give the condition its medical name – can in fact cause nauseating migraines. That’s because when the body’s fuel intake is too low, the brain doesn’t get the levels of energy it needs to function properly.
In some cases of hypoglycemia, headaches and migraines are also accompanied by feelings of nausea, confusion and perspiration. Very low blood sugar can also leave sufferers feeling faint, and, in rare cases, they can even lose consciousness or die.
To avoid hunger headaches, the American Nutrition Association advise eating three well-rounded meals each day. Of course, Paulette’s sons weren’t getting this specified amount, because their cafeteria food was inedible. Consequently, she approached the media to see if they could lend a hand.
WTVR CBS 6 began looking into the issue on behalf of the worried mom. And it wasn’t long before they found someone to corroborate Paulette’s claims. “It looked so unappetizing I could not bring myself to try it at all,” Precious Jackson, another student at the school, said of the slop.
It is important for school kids, in particular, to be well fed, as hunger affects concentration. In fact, studies have proven that hunger pangs can distract teens from their work and make it impossible to focus. Going without food, then, may become detrimental to a child’s education.
Doctor Stanley Jones is the Superintendent of King and Queen County Schools, and part of his job is maintaining the standards of canteen food. Faced with all the evidence, however, he couldn’t deny that something was wrong.
When reporters showed Jones the images from Paulette’s phone, he admitted it was unacceptable to serve such food. He also revealed that authorities had already suspended the head of food services for schools in the county. “If an employee is suspended, generally, it’s going to be related to performance,” Jones told WTVR.
However, it was then that the suspended employee in question came forward to defend herself. Suzanne Gilbertson denied she was responsible for the inedible meals. “My cafeteria employees have always been told if you’re not going to eat it don’t serve it to the students,” she said.
Furthermore, Gilbertson claimed that Jones had actually elected someone else to take control of the high school canteen a few months prior; he further alleged that the person in question didn’t have the relevant experience or knowledge to do the job. Gilbertson also said that when she reached out to the superintendent about the problem he simply ignored her concerns.
Yes, Gilbertson claimed Jones told her that she didn’t have the authority to question her new manager. “I was advised that these employees, they do not report to me, as they report to human resources and the superintendent,” Gilbertson revealed.
However, once again, Jones claimed the problem stemmed from the ground up, adding that the cafeteria team should work together to address the issue. But he also said he would look into the issue of the overcooked food without delay.
So while the cause of the charred food might never be known, at least Paulette had the drive to do something about it. And now, thanks to her, school kids at King and Queen County High School are getting the sustenance they need to complete their days. Food is, after all, the fuel of the brain.