Beth Olone and Jake Hogg, from Middlesbrough, are parents to now 20-month-old Mason Hogg. Beth underwent an early emergency C-section to have Mason, and soon spotted her newborn was struggling with several symptoms.
Mason had “jittery” movements, struggled sleeping and underwent treatment for different conditions before being diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumour called hypothalamic hamartoma. Dad Jake says his son now has “up to 100” seizures a day, but says Mason is “one of the happiest babies you’ll ever meet”.
Beth had suffered with pre-clampsia – a condition which causes high blood pressure during pregnancy – and was already staying at James Cook University Hospital when doctors noticed Mason’s heart rate was dipping low.
She was then rushed for an emergency C-section following a placental abruption and Mason was born six weeks and four days early. He weighed just three pounds and three ounces and was kept in the neonatal unit for three weeks.
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When he weighed five pounds the couple took him home, but the tot was back in hospital for an operation on an inguinal hernia in his groin. And his mum and dad noticed he was making “awkward movements”.
Jake, 27, said: “When he came out, he seemed to be in pain and was making some awkward movements. He had an arched back and was just genuinely not himself – once a week, he would then get these jittery movements and he couldn’t sleep.”
They took him to A&E several times and doctors initially thought Mason had a milk allergy, then acid reflux. But Jake says the medication didn’t help.
Beth woke up on August 31 to Mason having a “massive fit” and being “unresponsive”, calling an ambulance. He was rushed to hospital and placed on oxygen. Doctors found his sodium levels to be low and stopped the acid reflux medication but things didn’t improve.
Taking him back to hospital after his emergency visit, the couple were determined to find answers. Then a doctor told them she “won’t let you go until we know what’s going on”. Mason had a sonogram to check his kidney function and then underwent a CT scan on his head.
Jake said: “That’s how we found out he had a tumour. They told us first that they saw something in his brain but didn’t know much. They said they had been in touch with the RVI in Newcastle and that they were on their way now.”
Following an MRI scan the doctors told Jake and Beth Mason’s tumour was “really deep” and close to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
Jake said: “They knew where, but not what. We decided to go in for a biopsy and open brain surgery.” He the tumour was 28mm in diameter.
Mason was then diagnosed with hypothalamic hamartoma, which presents with gelastic seizures. These can cause him to laugh or giggle. Jake explained: “The seizures are not controlled, but they are controlled to a degree with medication.”
Since the diagnosis, Jake and Beth have taken Mason to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for further tests and now are on the wait list for laser ablation surgery. This will “create a legion around the tumour”.
The surgery has a 79 percent success rate and doctors hope it will stop Mason’s seizures.
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Mason now has his blood taken every two weeks to monitor his sodium levels, and his parents have felt the stress with Beth now diagnosed with PTSD.
Now Beth, a head of year at a Teesside college, will run the Great North Run in September raising money for the Sick Children’s Trust that helped her family “when we needed it the very most”.
The charity supports families of sick children and runs The Crawford House, where Beth and Jake stayed free of charge while Mason recovered from surgery.
Jake said: “It would’ve been a nightmare if we didn’t get that” and that it “made a massive difference”.
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