TV

Migraine Caused Serene Branson's Garbled Speech, Not Stroke

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

KCBS-TV anchor Serene Branson says a migraine, not a stroke, caused her indecipherable speech on-air.

Reporting after the Grammy awards, Branson's speech was so garbled that CBS had to cut to a preprepared segment instead of letting Branson finish her report.

Branson said she was frightened and "knew right away something was wrong" when she began speaking nonsense words. She'd begun to get "a really bad headache" earlier that night, but thought nothing of it until the on-air gaffe. 

"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," Branson 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."

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When she went on-air, she found herself "having trouble remembering the word for Grammy," she said. "I knew what I wanted to say but I didn't have the words to say it."

She visited UCLA after the incident for a brain scan and blood tests, but both came back clear.

Migraines can sometimes mimic strokes, say doctors. In Branson's case, she began feeling numbness down the right side of her face, and it affected her speech. She's had migraines since her childhood, but never one that had these particular symptoms.