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Urinary Reflux
Brett Ham

"Side Ache"
By Lori Ham

Nobody ever wants to hear that the test done on their child revealed a problem. But that is exactly the news we received in January of 2004. In December of 2003 our youngest son began complaining that he had "side ache". At the appointment with Dr. Adams he had a urine culture taken. The test revealed Brett had a urinary tract infection, very uncommon for boys. So much so that after the first UTI the American Academy of Medicine recommends further testing. Brett was scheduled the following week for an ultrasound and VCUG at Flowers Hospital. The next day Dr. Adams informed us that the test had revealed several problems. Brett's kidneys were dilated and one was significantly larger than the other. Dr. Adams stated Brett needed to be examined by a pediatric urologist at Children's Hospital to determine what course of action we should take. That's when we meet Dr. David Joseph. He explained that Brett had grade 5 reflux on a scale of 1-5 and that the chances of a child outgrowing the reflux, but generally that has occurred by age 5. Since Brett was about to be five the chance of him outgrowing the condition was not good. He stated a bilateral urethral re-implant would correct the condition. We needed time to process and pray about everything we had found out in the last two months. Dr. Joseph stated that as long as he had the surgery within a year or two everything would be fine but if the reflux continued over 5 to 10 years it would permanently damage Brett's kidneys and cause him to be on dialysis by the time he reached adulthood. We were rescheduled to come back to see Dr. Joseph in six months. We chose to have another VCUG preformed to determine if there had been any improvement. During this time Brett had been on antibiotics to prevent another UTI. Unfortunately there had been no improvement and we had to schedule the surgical procedure for December 2005. Dr. Joseph was very calm and reassuring during both exams and when discussing the procedure. On December 28, 2005 we traveled back to Birmingham for the third time and had another VCUG preformed to again be sure there had been no improvement. The results were the same and the surgery was scheduled for the next day. Dr. Joseph again went over what was going to happen and as always was calm and reassuring. On the day of the surgery all the hospital staff was very professional, helpful and caring. We arrived early and meet with the pediatric anesthesiologist who was also very calm and reassuring. By this time Brett had become concerned and a bit worried and the staff knew just how to handle the situation. Dr. Joseph had stated his procedure could take up to four hours and that we would be kept up to date on what was occurring with the telephone in the prep room and that we could remain in that room until someone else needed it. Once we had to leave that room the nurses continually came out to the waiting room to keep us up to date. Thankfully the procedure only took 2 to 2 ½ hours and everything went excellently and there was not need to taper Brett's urethral tubes which would have added surgical time. We were told we would now come back in six months and then yearly for the next five years. We continue to see Dr. Joseph but were able to skip one year and when we go back this July if everything is still good, Brett will be released. As always Dr. Joseph is wonderful and explains everything we need to know and what we can expect and anything we should be concerned with watching.

Children's Hospital is a wonderful, specialized care facility. It gave our son reassurance because the staff is so caring. You know you are getting expert, quality, professional care. For us it was evident that whether you have a life threatening disease or a routine surgical procedure, Children's handles everyone with excellent care. Going to Children's hospital means you are going to receive specialized care for children. You are also going to have expert, professional and quality care from a caring, compassionate staff. Our son never goes by a Children's money bank in the store without putting money in and saying "I went there". He also always has to give during the Children's Miracle Network balloon fundraiser. He gets his balloon and puts his name on it and puts it on the wall. I think that is what Children's means to us. It is the place that helped us through an unexpected, unsure time. Children's is such a wonderful place and we are so blessed to have it because you know it is all about children there and they make the children feel special. Children's is for every child.

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