After a very healthy and normal pregnancy and delivery, new parents, Amanda and Brad Miller, began an unanticipated journey with baby son Mason.
Today, eight years later, frequent trips to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital have become routine. Names and detailed explanations of many pediatric illnesses, common and rare, roll off their tongues. They are well versed in everything from severe acid reflux, hernia surgery, high blood pressure, Celiac Disease, Kawasaki Disease, Pediatric arthritic issues, and abdominal migraines.
As many babies do, Mason struggled with acid reflux from the time he was born. Unrelated, at four weeks, he required hernia surgery. At six weeks, he developed high blood pressure. Pediatric Nephrology treated him, and within six weeks his blood pressure normalized.
All the while his acid reflux worsened. At eight months, he had his first endoscopy and started medication to treat the condition.
At four months, he had a second hernia repair surgery.
Before his second birthday, his symptoms of acid reflux were getting worse; he was throwing up, suffering diarrhea, and losing weight. Mason was seen by UI Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Dawn Ebach. He was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an intolerance of wheat and gluten. A very special and limited diet manages the disease, but did not end Mason’s GI issues. Today, he continues to deal with Acid Reflux, and has had five endoscopies and one colonoscopy.
At age four, a case of strep throat persisted. After a week of high fevers, rashes, swollen face and tongue, and a lot of tests, Mason was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, a rare childhood illness that causes inflammation of the mucous membranes, lymph nodes, walls of the blood vessels, and the heart. It took 13 weeks to treat, during which he developed inflammation and pain in his joints. He required the specialized care of a Pediatric Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctor, Polly Ferguson. Because Kawasaki can attack the heart muscles, Mason needed an Electrocardiogram and Echocardiogram every three months. Add Pediatric Cardiology to his healthcare team. After a year of this careful monitoring, thankfully, it was determined his heart was not affected by the Kawasaki disease.
Very quickly, Mason got strep again, times 10. Just coming off his Kawasaki symptoms, it really took a toll on his body. He got Post Strep Reactive Arthritis and his joint issues intensified. Through a drug regimen of antibiotics to prevent strep, and prescription Naproxen to ease his joint pain and inflammation, he made it a whole year without getting sick! He still deals with joint pain and swelling, on and off, and remains under the care of Pediatric Rheumatoid Arthritis doctor Polly Ferguson.
No sooner had this strep-free year passed when Mason started doubling over with stomach pain. He would cry in pain for hours at a time. After extensive testing, he was diagnosed with abdominal migraines. He now takes daily medicine to prevent the abdominal migraines, but if he misses a dose, he suffers an attack. He can take a pain medicine that eases the attack and gets him feeling better in a few hours.
For the past year, Mason has dealt with fevers on and off, sometimes 3-4 times a week, with no other symptoms. He often struggles with joint pain during these fevers, but they are short lived episodes. Dr. Ferguson is following him for these, and fortunately, they seem to be easing somewhat these last few months. He receives regular physical therapy for knee pain.
Younger brother Zayden gave everyone a real scare when at four weeks he aspirated on gripe water, (a remedy for gas in babies) and stopped breathing. Mom, Amanda, called 911, and once they got him breathing again, he was taken to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
After this episode, they noticed Zayden seemed to have trouble swallowing. At four months, he started treatment with a swallow specialist at UICH. Six months of treatment helped improve his ability to swallow and they discontinued this therapy.
At six months, Zayden got a severe case of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), a common virus that infects the respiratory tract of children under two. He spent two days in UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Since having RSV, Zayden continued to struggle with respiratory issues, including pneumonia and Asthma symptoms.
He has always been an open mouth breather when sleeping, and started to snore at night. For the last 18 months, he has developed a horrible cough that causes him to vomit during the night. The Millers were referred to the same Gastroenterologist who treated Mason. She began treating him for acid reflux, like his brother. His cough improved, but still didn’t go away. During an endoscopy, Zayden stopped breathing twice. Unable to continue, they were referred to ENT. After some tests, ENT removed his tonsils and adenoids. After being observed in the hospital, they felt confident that due to his adenoids, he had never been able to breathe normally through his nose and they were the reason for his respiratory issues.
Zayden continues to deal with Acid Reflux, and both boys line up like little birds each night for their medicine.
None of this has slowed the boys down and kept them from the usual bumps and bruises most little boys experience.
2016 was a year of scary accidents for the boys. On the last day of school, Mason rode his bike off a retaining wall and was taken to ER and treated for a concussion. Only four days late, Amanda was carrying Zayden into the house from the garage and tripped on a shoe and dropped three-year-old Zayden. He split his head open and lost consciousness. Amanda called 911 and Zayden was rushed to the Emergency Room, where he went through a battery of tests that thankfully, ruled out a more serious head injury. He was stitched up and released late the same night.
A few months later, at a neighborhood outing, Mason tripped and burned his eye on a burning fire pit, introducing the Millers to the extraordinary UI Burn Unit. Thanks to the advanced care, Mason’s eye is as good as new.
The Millers feel beyond blessed to have this amazing hospital right here in Iowa, in their backyard!