Serene Branson Reveals What Was Going on in Her Head

Maressa Brown

In the days following KCBS reporter Serene Branson's scary on-air incident after the Grammys, everyone speculated a stroke was what caused her to speak in what came out sounding like unintelligible gibberish. We now know that the garbled speech was a result of complex migraine syndrome. Branson made the rounds to some news shows yesterday and on Thursday night, explaining what happened.

In her first interview since the incident, Branson told KCBS:

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. 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. 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.


She later told The Early Show on CBS how she felt directly following:

I was embarrassed, I was terrified and confused, confused – what had just happened?

Most people fear public speaking (I would assume that includes speaking to millions of viewers live on-camera) more than death. Can you imagine being in a similar situation as Branson? It's like this poor woman literally lived through something most of us would only endure in a nightmare.

The thing is, it doesn't just exist in nightmares. Complex migraine syndrome is real -- particularly in women in their 30s, said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who accompanied Branson on The Early Show. Crazily enough, something called dysphasic language dysfunction can be a symptom. My heart just really goes out to Branson and others who suffer from these debilitating headaches. 

The good news is that there seem to be not only pharmaceutical, but also natural therapies (which I'm usually more a fan of) that can help prevent migraine attacks. Dr. Ashton recommended people who suffer from migraines try taking coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10), B-vitamins and do what they can to avoid triggers. I get very minor migraines occasionally -- only once had a really horrific one with aura, but it didn't affect my speech -- and my biggest triggers seem to be stress, hunger and too much light or noise. Other triggers include certain foods and even hormonal fluctuations. (Yay, PMS.)

As difficult as it must have been for Branson to go through this debacle, it's really admirable that she's now making the rounds and discussing the details with various news sources. I'm sure there are people out there who have had similar symptoms or episodes and have NO CLUE what was going on. Now they may be able to make sense of their symptoms and have a better shot at getting the treatment they need. Or, they might experience something similar in the future, and now, thanks to Branson sharing about her experience, they may be more prone to remain calm. So, hey, how's that for some silver lining?

Were you surprised that it turned out Serene Branson suffered a migraine and not a stroke?

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