cast a line and catch your dream
“Do you remember your drum stomach?” David Lemons asked his 8-year-old son, Jaxon, who nodded and tapped his now normal (and silent) abdomen. “He was always bloated,” said David, pointing to a picture of Jaxon at age 4 with a severely distended stomach.
Born with Hirschsprung’s disease, Jaxon had ganglion cells missing from his colon. These nerve cells cause a wave-like motion inside the large intestine to move food along the digestive tract. Without them an obstruction is created. This congenital condition is normally diagnosed during infancy.
David and his wife, Leana, of Hanford discovered when their son was about 18 months old that he’d gone nearly three weeks without a bowel movement. “We kept trading off diaper changes,” said David. “I figured she got the really dirty ones and she thought I did.” The discovery triggered a three-year search for answers.
“Everyone kept saying it was his diet,” said Leana. “I got tired of hearing that because we’d tried everything. I told David we had to keep going to someone until they figured out what was wrong.”
A referral to Children’s Hospital shortly before Jaxon’s fifth birthday led to a diagnosis and a consultation with Dr. Michael Allshouse, medical director, pediatric surgery and trauma. “He told us that instead of a transportation chamber, Jaxon’s colon had become a storage chamber,” said David.
Dr. Allshouse performed a curative procedure usually done at a much younger age. “He removed 10 centimeters of Jaxon’s colon,” said David. “He let us know that he didn’t know how it would respond.”
When complications arose three months later, Dr. Allshouse conducted a second surgery to place a catheter into Jaxon’s digestive tract. “It’s technically a feeding tube, but we flush water through it,” he said.
“The catheter gives Jaxon control of elimination,” said Dr. Allshouse. “I’m confident that over time he will get to a point where he won’t need the flushes anymore.”
“One of my favorite things about Dr. Allshouse is that he always talks to Jaxon first,” said David.
Now that Jaxon is doing much better, the family visits the pediatric surgery practice only once a year. “Dr. Allshouse said that it’s taken five years to get Jaxon’s colon this messed up and it will take a while for it to heal.”
“Before meeting Dr. Allshouse, I kept hearing the same wrong diagnosis and it was frustrating,” said Leana. “We are forever grateful to Children’s Hospital. They gave Jaxon back his quality of life.”