Science Made My Son’s Birthday a Reality this Year

Science Made My Son’s Birthday a Reality this Year October 11, 2018

Since moving to Patheos this summer, I have tried my best to not write about my son. However, today is a special day. My son is six years old. Most parents celebrate and get excited about their children’s birthday. This year I’m not only excited, but I am grateful my son is alive. Since last December, my sweet little boy has undergone three major brain surgeries and open heart surgery. He had four long hospitalizations, several significant complications, and lived through a ton of pain. Today he is here with us. He survived, and he’s thriving.

Today instead of feeling sad about our past year, I am celebrating the fact that my kid survived a living hell. He lived in heart failure for three years. His brain needed three surgeries to repair and manage fluid that could not drain. During this time his stomach shut down, and we had to feed him directly to his intestines.

However, today he is on the mend. His heart is perfect! Thanks to a shunt in his brain, the water drains off his brain. He no longer has neuropathic pain, and his stomach function is back to his baseline.

Today I celebrate science. Thanks to science my son can live to be an adult. A by-pass machine kept him alive while they operated on his heart. Advancements in pediatric cardiac surgery enabled surgeons to restore and augment a broken valve inside his heart. Medication designed to manage heart failure helped my son’s body drain off the excess fluid his body stored.

Brain surgeons utilized technology to stabilize his spine and neck to operate on his neck and skull. Ultrasounds and CT scans allowed surgeons to thread a catheter into his ventricles deep inside his brain.

Medical device companies developed a tiny valve that measures the pressure inside his skull. As pressure increases, a small valve placed on the top of his head opens to drain the excess fluid.

A small catheter runs from the top of his head to his neck, and down the chest. The catheter ends in his abdomen. Fluid from his brain drains into the open space of the abdomen. Then the body absorbs his cerebral spinal fluid.

My son has a bypass system that helps his brain work. Because of this system, my son no longer lives in debilitating pain. Science is amazing.

Gastric tubes help him eat, burp and control his stomach issues. Medications maintain his endocrine system because he was born without one. Science is my son’s best friend.

On our special day, please join us in thanking science and medical staff for keeping children like mine alive. Unless you have a chronically ill child, you don’t get how many advancements exist to help kids grow and survive.

My passion to write about science and debunk pseudoscience is directly connected to my son’s amazing journey. His medical journey has shown me the amazing world of modern medicine.

Also, please join me in wishing my son a very happy birthday. He can’t be in school due to his fragile health.

Please leave him A note, emoji, or even a GIF to wish him well.

Happy Birthday, Bubba!

Mommy and Daddy Love You.

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  • Kathy
  • Tawreos

    I hope he has an awesome birthday!

    I think you give to much credit to science. It may have done a lot for him but I get the feeling that a mother’s love is what put the smile on his face, so make sure you give yourself some credit as well. =)

    Hopefully we will see variations on this post every year for a long time to come.

  • Happy birthday to a brave kid!

  • The Geek Room

    Happy birthday little dude!!

  • TinnyWhistler

    ” a mother’s love is what put the smile on his face,”
    Seriously. My best friend is chronically ill and having good parents can REALLY make or break your childhood when you grow up dealing with something like this.

  • Carra McClelland
  • gimpi1

    Happy birthday to a strong, powerful little guy!

    Only a strong fella could manage all this. Brat of luck in the future.

  • Tornadopelt

    The world can be cruel, but your son is a champion and everyone in this world is hearing him roar.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Science! Not just for the win, but birthdays, too!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MANY MORE from all the scientists, rationalists, and inventors who do this for exactly this reason: giving more persons more happy birthdays!

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Hey kid, If somebody asks what you want to be when you grow up.. just answer ‘Happy to be alive’ (:

    edit: Or the old curmudgeon in me could suggest the answer ‘A Voter’.

  • It’s not quite the same, but my wife is alive today courtesy of modern medicine, so I know where you’re coming from.

    Also, happy birthday, young man!

  • swbarnes2

    It’s my kid’s birthday too…no flashy medical miracles involved, except for all the infections that could have been, but weren’t; thanks to vaccines. (Epidurals are pretty darn close to miraculous though)

    So happy birthday to your kidlet.

  • guerillasurgeon

    The other day I was out running on a dirt track and fell over. Landed on both palms of my hands, gravel rash everywhere and two stitches in my right hand. Tetanus shot, antibiotics. And I was reminded of the first guy to be treated with antibiotics, who had simply been pricked by a rose thorn which had turned septic. He was an English policeman and he died because they couldn’t produce enough penicillin to keep the treatment up, even though he had improved markedly when they first gave it to him. In the end they were desperate enough to extract it from his own urine – but still not enough. Later the US managed to produce large amounts of it for soldiers in World War II although there was never enough. But whatever the problems – the science worked. And I’m still alive.

  • Cindy

    What a trouper! Happy Birthday to your sweet boy and best wishes for the future. He is fortunate to have such a great mom.

  • Cheryl Simon

    Happy Birthday, Little Man!!!

  • David Rubin

    Don’t you know? God gave us all that science! God also got me on the bus when I waited at the terminal and paid my fare. Wishing your son a great birthday

  • Patricia Partin

    My eighteen year old daughter died in 1991 due to a skin cell that migrated to the brain during fetal development. This was fine until puberty started and unknowingly it begin to grow and change. It was three long years before doctors even understood what was happening and by then it was too late. Celebrate science and happy birthday to your son and thanks to the knowledge gained and professionals who saved your son!

  • avelworldcreator

    Happiest of birthdays to your awesome boy and may he live to 60. I hope science will progress to the point that even the stuff done for him so far can be replaced and he can live more naturally.

  • anxionnat

    Or, the equally old little old non-lady says, “I want to be a scientist and cure diseases.” That’s what I said. That’s what I did! Lots of work, but it’s worth it to see the happy, smiling faces of kids you helped, and the relieved smiles of the rest of their families. Go for it!

  • L Turner

    Happy, Happy Birthday, little guy. May all of your dreams come true.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    I wanted to be a doctor… but I never had the patience. (;

  • me too!

  • adriancrutch
  • OMG wow! I am so sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing that with me. I really appreciate it. We are incredibly grateful for the amazing advancements in science. Several of these issues would have ended his life had he been born when I was 40 years ago.

  • My epidural quit working. But those few hours it did – were magical!

  • Oh yes, he will be a voter! And so help me – mythical GOD in the sky – he will be a democrat!

  • Yes!

  • Thank you!

  • thank you so much!

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Um, I do wuvvs you to bits and stuff. BUT, should you not leave that up to HIM to decide? Certainly, do your best to teach him proper values and stuff, but A) Aint we against indoctrination B) (granted a stretch) the Parties may change during his lifetime

  • persephone
  • Wayne Jean-Marie

    That brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. Tell him happy birthday and give him a hug from me. He deserves all the love in the world.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Cozmo, if it was not for Democrats and caring about sick children and the least among us, this young man would not be celebrating his birthday.
    Happy Birthday to you! You are a brave young man and kudos to your parents for being cogent, intelligent people who believed in science, and not just “prayers.” God gave us brains for us to use.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Yes, the Democrats (i’m one) are mostly for health care, science, rational thought, etc etc. BUT! The young man will have a CHOICE to make. Give him education, teach him reason, show him love and compassion. And STILL he may CHOOSE to be a neo-nazi republican that wants to murder all the people not like him. Demanding that he fit some pre-determined niche is what the ‘other side’ would do. I just think we should not so crassly demand that he fit ‘our’ mold.

    And as I said above, it is POSSIBLE that the parties may change. It has happened before. Saying ‘Republican EVIL. Democrat GOOD.’ is just as bigoted as saying ‘White: GOOD. Black: Bad’.

    Also, there is a bit of a difference (in some cases) between local/state/federal Democrat vs. Republican (not lately.. as much) but there are cases where a Repub has made more sense that a Demo.

    OTOH, who the fuck am I to tell somebody how to raise their own child… On the gripping hand, I want to see the world run by intelligent people who grew up knowing the difference between rational evaluation and knee-jerk reactions based on labels.

  • avelworldcreator

    I’ve been pondering this one. Did they learn a way to recognize this condition in order to treat it from your daughter. I’m hoping her death wasn’t in vain – at least she was able to bring joy to the world until that happened.

  • avelworldcreator

    I see what you did there!

  • Patricia Partin

    The doctors had no clue and since I wasn’t a high earner, with little insurance they saw the previous doctors’ notes and they didn’t try very hard. We had lots of skepticism and second opinions. One doctor even told me that sometimes “teenage girls do this for attention.” After three years of this,we were able to see a neurosurgeon who operated a week later. she died on the table from a stroke and when we returned home, every single one of those doctors sent me a letter telling me they had lawyered up.

  • Patricia Partin

    I was told that this sort of condition has only a 30% survival rate but then that was back in May 1991. Hopefully that has changed.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    no, that would be optomitry. Shit, I can’t spell without my glasses.


    You wonder how many of these wealthy and religious people would give up their medicine and rely on prayer to take care of them.

  • WallofSleep
  • avelworldcreator

    Damn. We really need single payer.

  • HD Santa

    Happy Birthday from the other side of the world
    I live in Tasmania, the island state of Australia
    May medical science continue to provide quality of life to you son
    May he grow and learn, love and live – ho doesn’t need religion for any of that but he does need science
    Happy Birthday and hopes for many more

  • Debby Lester Price

    Happy Birthday sweetie and hooray for science.

  • Illithid

    Nothing worse than seeing your child suffer. So glad he’s doing better; hope the road ahead is smooth.

    I’m not computer-savvy enough for clever animations, but a heartfelt Happy (belated) Birthday to him!

  • Sandra
  • Judgeforyourself37

    Sure pray if that is your bag. If you want a loved one to live and recover, he/she will have to have a competent physicians! If all you do is “pray” your loved one may well die.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    I am so, so sorry, Patricia. It does appear that those doctors, who immediately hired lawyers, knew that they had erred.
    We, too, lost our fifty year old daughter to a massive coronary but the doctors did all that they could to save her. After five days of life support, all brain function ceased and she was taken off life support. We are never, ever prepared to see a child, even an adult child, predecease us. You have our deepest sympathies.

  • Patricia Partin

    I agree and you have my deepest sympathies for your loss.

    In the case of those with poor to mid line insurance, we tend to forget that the medical profession is above all else a business.

  • Tornadopelt

    Your son survived a shutting-down stomach, 3 brain surgeries and a heart surgery. Any one of those could have been his last, yet not only is science to thank, but it’s your son’s tough, tiger-like warrior spirit. Your son is a special kind of person: the kind who, even when knowing the odds are so highly stacked against them that any sane person would say they are insurmountable, will fight tooth and nail to succeed, and are willing to go through hell and high water, and even both simultaneously, to take one more step towards victory. Songs will be sung of the man who stared at Death and laughed in its face. Your son isn’t a six-year-old boy, he’s a six-year-old man, a soldier fighting one of the most brutal battles I have ever seen, a battle on the homefront. Your son’s will is that of steel, unbending and unbreaking. Your son’s mind, a mighty oak, firmly rooted in this world such that not even the mightiest of F5 tornadoes cannot move him. Your son’s body, graphene, a material so strong that not even the mightiest arms are able to harm it. Your son inspires everyone to fight on, no matter the odds. He’s got the touch. He’s got the power.

  • awe! Thank you so much! those are awesome words!

  • C_Alan_Nault

    If those Christian religious people won’t rely on prayer, they are not following the teachings of the Bible.


    You think many of them really care? They probably don’t believe in a God, let alone hell.

  • al kimeea

    Happy Birthday young man. Here’s to more (raises glass)

  • al kimeea

    yeah, the US model of healthcare is not one worthy of emulation or praise for its pursuit of profit

    OTOH, we just got a family doctor after a year and a half on a waiting list. There are thousands here with no GP.

  • Some guy

    Well, then forget ophthalmology! (No, wait, they don’t do memory care, do they? I forget.)

  • Some guy

    Reminds me of the religious guy, late for an appointment, promising God he’ll give up all his vices for a parking space. Immediately one opens up. “Never mind, Lord, I found one myself.”