Parents of Toddler With Brain Disorder Make Us Realize How Lucky We Are

kid head bandageI know I'm incredibly lucky to have two healthy children. I try to remember to be grateful for my good fortune every day, but, like most parents, I tend to get distracted and caught up in the day-to-day stress of raising kids and, more often than not, I forget to appreciate the present moment.

Dylan Catania's parents don't have that luxury.

Now almost 2 years old, Dylan was born with a brain disorder called hemimegalencephaly. Occuring in less than two dozen births each year, a baby with this disorder is born with half of his brain enlarged and malformed.

Dylan spent the first months of his life suffering unrelenting seizures triggered by the right side of his brain -- as many as 100 per day. His odds weren't great. So Dylan's parents agreed to a radical surgery ...

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When he was almost 3 months old, the right hemisphere of Dylan's brain was separated from the left in a 7-hour operation performed by neurosurgeons at UCLA. The procedure was a risky one: Dylan could have been paralyzed on his left side as a result.

Almost 3 years later, Dylan's left side is only slightly paralyzed. He can now speak over two dozen words, attends preschool, loves pasta with red sauce and dancing to Elmo. The operation was definitely a huge success!

Still, the Catanias know his seizures could come back at any time. Says his mom, Ellen:

"Some go all the way to 15 and have a seizure. You feel so joyful for every day with him, but then you still worry about his future."

What strikes me the most about that statement are these words: You feel so joyful for every day with him.

I honestly can't even wrap my head around the courage and strength of Dylan's parents. To make a point of finding the joy in every day they get to spend with their son, rather than let the worry and heartache consume them ... it's beyond inspiring.

Do stories like this one make you appreciate your own healthy children even more?


Image via Suzette Pauwels/Flickr

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