Serene Branson Opens Up About 'Terrifying' Migraine (Video)
"I was scared, I was confused. I didn't know what was going on,” says the CBS 2 correspondent, who suffered from a complex migraine live on air.
"I started to get a really bad headache" before going on air, Branson said, adding that she just figured she was tired.
"At around 10 o'clock that night I was sitting in the live truck with my field producer and the photographer and I was starting to look at some of my notes," she said. "I started to think, the words on the page are blurry and I could notice that my thoughts were not forming the way they normally do."
"As soon as I opened my mouth I knew something was wrong," Branson, who works for Los Angeles affiliate CBS 2, went on. "I was having trouble remembering the word for Grammy. I knew what I wanted to say but I didn't have the words to say it."
The station cut away to file Grammy footage, and she was examined by paramedics and then sent home.
In a second interivew on the CBS Early Show Friday, Branson said, "I know what was going through my mind at that time. I was terrified. I was scared, I was confused. I didn't know what was going on."
She said watching the tape back later was "troubling."
"I knew something wasn't right as soon as I opened my mouth," Branson added. "I hadn't been feeling well a little bit before the live shot. I had a headache, my vision was very blurry. I knew something wasn't right, but I just thought I was tired. So when I opened my mouth, I thought, 'This is more than just being tired. Something is terribly wrong.' I wanted to say, 'Lady Antebellum swept the Grammys.' And I could think of the words, but I could not get them coming out properly."
Kerry Maller, a KCBS producer, who was on-location with the twice Emmy nominated reporter, said, "After the live shot, she dropped the microphone and got very wobbly."
Once paramedics arrived, "They sat me down immediately," says Branson. "I dropped the microphone. Right after that, my cheek went numb, my hand went numb, my right hand went numb and I started to cry. I was scared. I didn't know what had gone on and I was embarrassed and fearful."
Paramedics checked Branson's vital signs and said she was fine.
"I was scared, nervous, confused, exhausted, and in an evening dress in the back of an ambulance," she said. "I said, 'I just want to go home. I just want to go home.'"
"I had headaches throughout my life, but never what I would have called a migraine," she said. "And the doctor ran lots of tests. I saw some of the best doctors in the world, top neurologists and cardiologists. They ran tests for three days. I was there for nine hours Monday, back for nine hours the next day and finally they diagnosed me with migraine aura, which is much more serious than what people think of as a migraine."
She didn't learn the video had gone viral until days later.
"I hadn't been on the Internet," she said. "Obviously, I looked at my phone and it was inundated with phone calls. I spoke with my best friend in the morning, obviously my mother at work immediately, but I spoke with my friend, and I didn't have any idea at that point because, obviously, work and my family were so concerned about my health at that point. But my friend said something about seeing it on the news. And I said, 'the news?' And even at that point I said, 'Gosh, I hope it doesn't make it on YouTube."'
Her parents, however, watched it live on the news.
"My parents watch every night," Branson said. "I talked with my mother earlier in the day. She was excited to see how my hair looked that night at the Grammys. And I know she'd been watching and she was terrified. But interestingly enough, she -- I talked to her the next day, and she said, 'This is a condition that I think I may have had. So let's get you right to a neurologist and get you checked out.'"
She is ready to return to work.
Her doctor, UCLA neurologist Dr. Andrew Charles, explained to the Associated Press, "A migraine is not just a headache. It's a complicated brain event."
He said only 20 to 30 percent of people experience symptoms before having a migraine attack.
The right side of Branson's face went numb, which affected her speech.
"She was actually having the headache while she was having these other symptoms," he said.
Branson had experienced migraines since childhood, but never of this severity, Charles added.