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A Year Later, CBS2 Reporter Serene Branson Looks Back On Her On-Air Medical Emergency

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(credit: CBS) Pat Harvey
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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — It was just a year ago when CBS2 reporter Serene Branson made international news when she suffered a migraine, causing her to speak incoherently during her on-air report outside the 2011 Grammy Awards.

She spoke with CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey about the incident and how it has caused her to become more mindful of her health and inspired her to raise public awareness about migraines.

serene branson medical emergency 2 A Year Later, CBS2 Reporter Serene Branson Looks Back On Her On Air Medical Emergency

(credit: CBS)

“On one hand, it feels like it was just yesterday because I still remember those feelings so vividly. But, on the other hand, I feel like I’ve come so far and I’m much more comfortable sitting here talking with you about it now than I was a year ago,” Branson said in an interview at her home.

“If anything, it was a big wake-up call to pay attention to my body and take care of my health,” Branson said.

An Emmy-award winning reporter, Branson was doing her live shot outside the Staples Center last year when her words became garbled and she exhibited symptoms of a medical condition. Video of Branson’s report went viral on YouTube and there was plenty of speculation as to what caused the episode. Doctors concluded that Branson suffered a migraine and that her symptoms — dizziness, nausea and speech impairment — mimicked a stroke.

Branson recalled that, as a child, she saw her mother endure similar episodes.

The reporter now gets routine screenings with Dr. Andrew Charles, who holds the Luskin Chair in Migraine and Headache Studies at UCLA.

serene branson medical emergency A Year Later, CBS2 Reporter Serene Branson Looks Back On Her On Air Medical Emergency

(credit: CBS)

“We’re basically, sort of, quarrying different parts of the brain that are involved in the different sorts of functions just to make sure that all the parts of the brain are working normally,” Charles said.

“We checked her visual fields, her sensation of temperature to see if it was the same on both sides and then I did a test of her sensory perception where we drew a number in her hand and had her recognize what the number was without looking. Really, part of what we’re trying to do is to get people aware of the problem and to bring it to the attention of their physicians.”

Branson said the incident has made her take better care of her health.

“So, I’m very mindful of what I’m eating. I’m very mindful when I travel to try and stay hydrated. I keep the migraine medicine with me. I know that when I feel those symptoms coming on I can take something and be OK.”

serene branson works for national headache foundation A Year Later, CBS2 Reporter Serene Branson Looks Back On Her On Air Medical Emergency

(credit: CBS)

And the reporter is trying to help raise awareness of the issue. She now speaks on behalf of the National Headache Foundation, helping launch their new headache campaign. Branson spoke at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas at the Migraine Headache Symposium.

“I think that it’s worthwhile to be doing it still because the education still needs to be kept out there, the awareness,” Branson said.

The reporter’s life has changed in many ways this past year — including a new fiance.

“Matt was there by my side the whole time and I saw what kind of man he was and that he was going to be by my side. And, I think, he saw my true colors and how I cope with a stressful situation,” said Branson, adding that a few months later they got engaged.

Branson said she hopes to continue her work with raising migraine awareness.

“I think it’s important to keep the issue out there and alive and talk about it.”

Read more about headache and migraine health:

» “Advances in the Basic and Clinical Science of Migraine.” Charles, Andrew, MD. Annals Of Neurology. 2009.

» “Migraine Questions And Answers” by Dr. Andrew Charles.

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