In The Long Run, It's Surprisingly Easy To Live With
We also wanted to know what it's like living as an adult who had an omphalocele, but we weren't willing to wait 15 years to interview, and our Time Travel division is busy getting high on the couch and watching Doctor Who. So we also talked to Jonathan Calvaruso, who had his surgery in 1987.
Jonathan's case was severe. He was born six weeks early, only weighed four pounds and 11 ounces, and various complications ensured that he spent the first six months of his life in an incubator. Doctors only gave him a 10 percent chance of survival, but despite all that, Jonathan's now doing great. In his words:
"Every once and a while I'll get a twitch in the scar, and that's really it. I've had zero side effects. I've lost a little bit of intestine, but I've had no bowel problems, no complications. I can run, I can jump, I can do sit-ups. It doesn't limit me at all."
Plus, the scar makes for a convenient taco holder while laying down during Netflix binges.
Equally importantly, it doesn't bother Jonathan mentally: "It hasn't changed the way I live at all. It's fun to tell stories and talk about it. It's definitely something where it's easier to talk about it than try to hide it. I've always been the first person to take my shirt off at the beach. It never bothered me, and I don't think it ever will. If it bothered someone else, that's their problem."
And like anyone else with a cool scar, Jonathan takes every opportunity to mess with people. May we suggest samurai attack?
"I like to make up stories. You can get people to believe anything. I've made shark attack stories up on the spot, friends go along with it, and people believe it."
"Had a chestburster inside me. They nuked it from orbit. It was the only way to be sure."
Every case is different, of course. All of Jonathan's organs are in more or less the right place, while the same can't be said for my boy. But he's living proof that most children who survive an omphalocele will have minimal problems, and only the biggest and baddest cases cause lifelong complications.
I don't know what the future holds for my son, but I think it's cool that he'll grow up in an age in which half his organs can try to ditch him and doctors consider it an inconvenience. Hopefully, the biggest complication he'll experience is having to come to terms with the fact that his dad told his story to the entire Internet. And hopefully, he'll agree that it was worth it.
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You can follow Jonathan on Twitter, and read more from Mark on his site.
Ready for the other side of this equation? Find out why people will always bring you their poop when you're a microbiology technologist in I Diagnose Your Diseases: 7 Horrifying Realities. Or find out what life is like when you're pretty much Mr. Fantastic in 6 Weird Realities Of My Life With An Awful Superpower.
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