For Karen Bellow of Destrehan, January cannot come soon enough.
This is when Bellow’s young son, Jaxon, goes in for a medical checkup and ultrasound to determine the progress he’s made since his last kidney surgery in May of this year. Jaxon, who is just over a year old now, suffers from disease in both of his kidneys, specifically hydronephrosis and vesicoureteral reflux.
What doctors find will determine whether Jaxon can continue on with treatment as is, or if he’ll have to have surgery to remove his kidney.
“We don’t know if he’s healing, and we won’t until they explain everything going on in January, what they’re seeing and what we need to do from there,” Bellows said. “It’s been hard, for sure. It takes a toll.”
Hydronephrosis causes fluid buildup in the kidney due to backed up urine, while vesicoureteral reflux means there is a backward flow of urine from the bladder to the kidney. Jaxon’s March surgery was called a pyeloplasty, or reconstruction of the renal pelvis to drain and decompress the kidney.
Bellow said the good news following the surgery was that her family was informed nothing had changed for the worse.
Nonetheless, she was cautioned that Jaxon has a long road to recovery.
“He has these diseases in both kidneys,” Bellow said. “It’s not that uncommon, but most boys grow out of it. Jaxon didn’t.”
Outwardly, it’s hard to tell if he’s dealing with any kind of pain from the affliction. Bellow said he walks normally, but when he lays down to sleep, he prefers to lay on his side; whether that’s simply a non-related preference or a habit developed from discomfort in his kidney area is something she does not know.
He takes antibiotics every day, as his condition leaves him vulnerable. Were he to suffer a urinary tract infection, for example, it would likely lead to the loss of a kidney.
By any measure, it’s created a mentally and financially stressful time for Bellow and her family. Her husband, Paul, installs floors and frequently is called on to travel for the job, but has had to pass on a number of work opportunities in order to care for his son. That will include an opportunity in January that he will be forced to forego as Jaxon’ may face another surgery.
“When something happens to your child, you don’t want to go too far in case something happens,” Bellow said. “He wants to make sure his son is okay.”
And while no time is a good one to deal with such a situation, it’s particularly difficult right now for the Bellow family. Bellow herself recently went through a hospital stay where she learned she had a heart blockage.
Her daughter may need eye surgery.
“It’s hard,” she said. “We’re making it through in large part because we’re getting a lot of support, prayers and thoughts from family and friends. We’re just trusting in God, it’s all we can do.”
Bellow recently set up a GoFundMe account to help offset some of the family’s medical expenses, titled “Prayers & medical expenses for Jaxon.”