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Our Shining Star: Cameron
Written by his mom, Christy
Appeared in the foundation's newsletter, LIFE~LINE, Summer 2000

Five years ago we were living the "perfect" life. We had dream home, luxury cars, and we took two cruises a year. We had four beautiful, healthy and successful children (two sons and two daughters - Evan (22), Brendan (16), Courtney (19), and Molly (14). We thought our life was perfect and our family seemed complete. In the Spring of 1995 our dreams and prayers were answered when we found out that after fourteen years of trying - we were going to have another baby. The six of us were ecstatic. We spent the summer planning for the birth of our third son.

Sometime in December of that year, on a routine visit to the doctor, I mentioned that the baby's movements had slowed considerably. I went through many tests that were inconclusive. My OB decided to wait and induce me on January 14th. Cameron had other plans. Early on the morning of January 9th, our son was born. With our children supporting us, Cameron, 9 pounds, 6 ounces, came into this world gasping for breath and struggling to live. He was born suffering from meconium aspiration and was in severe respiratory distress. (Meconium aspiration is where a baby has a bowel movement prior to birth and the baby, through the amniotic fluid, takes in the matter.)

Our tears of joy quickly turned into tears of fear as we were told our son would need to be transferred to a major medical center because we had a "very, very sick baby." Through my tears, I told my husband to follow the ambulance and be with our baby.

Cameron was transferred. He was placed on an oscillating ventilator and put into a drug-induced coma. He had an enlarged heart, low blood sugar and an unknown infection. He was barely clinging to life. We were told several times they didn't think that he would make it. For 2 1/2 weeks Cameron fought live with his mommy and daddy, his brothers and sisters - all who were keeping a constant vigil in the N.I.C.U. He improved slowly and was weaned from the ventilator. He then had to go through drug withdrawal because of the high amounts of drugs that he had been given. We then had to deal with feeding issues because he was oral defensive due to the vent. His other medical problems began to slowly resolve themselves.

Just when we thought everything was turning around in Cameron's favor our world fell apart. It seems he had one seizure in the ambulance on the day he was born. He was given an M.R.I. to determine the reason for the seizure. On one of our visits to see Cameron, we were led into a small room where we were given the news - that would change our lives forever. The M.R.I. showed that Cameron had suffered a stroke before he was born. His right ventricle was completely blocked with a blood clot. The prognosis was grim. We were told that he would not walk, talk, or move his left side. Cerebral Palsy was a definite possibility. The doctors wanted to keep him in N.I.C.U. to watch him. It wasn't long before the size of his head began to grow. That is when we first heard the word hydrocephalus. As the fluid began to build up we saw our son begin to slip away. Just when Cameron had started to respond to us he became distant and then stopped.

On the morning of February 7th, the neurosurgeon tapped his fontanel to relieve the pressure and examine the fluid. The fluid was clear, showing no new bleeding. He gave us the news we had waited 5 weeks for - we could take Cameron home!! We celebrated with his brothers and sister that night with Welcome Home banner, balloons, pizza and cake.

Five days later we went back to the hospital for a follow up ultrasound. The next morning the surgeon's office called and said to bring Cameron back for emergency shunt surgery. Cameron's shunt was implanted late in the evening of February 13th, 1996. He spent one night and the following day in the I.C.U. and we took him home the following day.

Cameron has amazed every doctor he has come in contact with since his surgery. He is now 4 and has hit every milestone. He does (!!) walk, talk, and he moves every party of his body. There is no sign of C.P. We like to joke and tell people that he is "forty" not "four." He has an extensive vocabulary and is a miniature adult in every way. He has done television commercials, and he was the 2000 Cover Kids finalist winner for L.A. Parent Magazine. In 1998 and 1999 he was a Youth Ambassador for the March of Dimes. We are so proud of our "little man."

When Cameron was 10 months old his daddy suffered a heart attack and had to have emergency angioplasty. We had to re-order our lives. Suddenly the "perfect job" wasn't perfect anymore and we changed directions. Over the past 4 years our financial situation has changed drastically. We no longer have the dream home or the luxury car and vacations- what are those?

Through all of this and the blessing of our miracle children, Cameron, we now know what the "perfect life" really is and its meaning. Cameron is what keeps us focused. He is the reason we get up each morning. He really is our shining star.

Having hydrocephalus in our lives will be a forever challenge. The courage and tenacity displayed by our little boy has been an inspiration to our whole family and everyone who meets him. We don't know where hydrocephalus will take our son, but we feel it has changed our lives. We have met some of the bravest and most loving people because of Cameron's condition. Through them, we have received the courage, inspiration, and dedication to face whatever hydrocephalus bring us.

It is with love and gratitude we dedicate Cameron's story to the doctors and nurses at the Medical Center. They gave us back our little boy and we will remember that forever.

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