What could possibly have driven somebody to blog for years on end about something most people have never heard of?
Probably much the same as what drove you (the reader) to visit this blogsite.
Although pyloric stenosis (“PS”) does affect adults it more often afflicts newborn babies – between 2 and 5 in every 1,000. This surely means everybody knows at least one PS survivor, although most people have never heard of it. The condition is included in every medical training course – yet many doctors and nurses have only a vague and often caricature knowledge of it: they often dismiss PS if the projectile vomiting baby is not male, first-born, and between one and 3 months old.
Ask the parents of an infant surgery baby to tell you their story today, and many will headline it as their most traumatic experience ever, too often starting with an over-lengthy and poorly handled process of diagnosing their baby’s problem.
Ask past generations about that mystery scar on your belly, and they will politely suggest you ask them “some other time”. In many cases before the late 20th century, PS surgery was done in a cloak of secrecy and isolation – and then left there. Anesthesia was crude if used at all for babies, post-op hospitalization lasted a minimum of 2 weeks and even the nursing mother was often kept from direct contact with her newborn. What parent even today would want to revisit that time?
I was born in later 1945, the firstborn and son of parents whose life plans had been on hold due to the Depression and World War 2, and traumatised after having survived in a Nazi-occupied country for 5 years. A few months later, only 10 days after his long-awaited birth, they had to hand their first born to a surgeon.
No wonder my parents chose to belong to an age that did not talk about trauma… but it left me in a dark and lonely place and it took me most of my 70+ years to piece together the main elements of my story – and to understand my inner turmoil which I have recognised only in the last few years is a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD.
I can say “mild” probably because I grew up in a model Christian family: secure, loving, keen to learn and work, and exemplary in their understanding and care for others. Most people would not suspect that my rough start has affected me. I have been able to internalise and hide my pain and few recognise that I lag behind my parents and 4 younger siblings in some significant measures.
This joint blog with Wendy Williams (as well as each our own blogs, ReStory your Life and Surviving Infant Surgery) set down, explore and share our individual yet strikingly similar stories after infant surgery.
I was born in the northern Netherlands in 1945 and migrated to Australia with my parents in 1951. Helen and I have 4 children and 11 grandchildren – each of them a delight! We have worked as Christian church pastors in 4 Australian States and have been enjoying a varied and productive retirement since 2010.