At first glance, James Low seems like a typical 20-month-old. He loves humming the song “’Wheels on the Bus,” bringing his teddy bear along with him everywhere he goes and sitting on Daddy’s lap while they swing at the park. At first glance, you would never know that his first year of life involved two brain surgeries and a staph infection at the surgical site. “When he was four or five months old we noticed he wasn’t developing like other babies,” Tanner Low, James’ father said. “He wasn’t laughing or smiling and something just wasn’t right.” James’ mother, Robin, took her son to the doctor who ordered an MRI and EEG to scan his brain. It turned out little James had a lesion on the right occipital lobe of his brain which was giving him infantile spasms, or “seizures.” A round of steroid treatments helped with the seizures, but the next EEG still showed the lesion.
James was scheduled to have brain surgery to remove the lesion on April 28, 2016 at just seven and a half months old. His parents were allowed to take him home five days after the surgery, but were alarmed when he began to suffer from extreme fevers and vomiting. The Lows took their son back to the hospital, where he struggled with the fevers for several weeks. Nothing doctors did would bring it down. A spinal tap came back positive for strep, but treating strep still did nothing to bring James’ temperature down to a normal level. The surgical site itself didn’t show major signs of infection; it was slightly pink with a normal amount of fluid coming from the incision area. But when James’ fevers continued, doctors had no choice but to reopen the wound and start the healing process over. Upon reopening the incision, surgeons flushed the area. When they tested the site, they discovered James had contracted a staph infection during his first surgery. “They warned us that any time you break the skin there is a chance of something like this happening,” Tanner said. “You just assume it won’t happen to you.” Robin said the weeks in the hospital because of the infection were grueling for their little family. “I didn’t resent the people, but I started really resenting being in a hospital,” she said. “I felt totally stuck. I had really bad cabin fever after a while. I spent most of my time in James’ room; if I left his room where would I go? I slept, ate and did everything at the hospital during James’ stay there.” Tanner went straight to work from the hospital and come back at the end of the day where he slept on the floor or squished onto the small hospital cot with Robin. “It was a tight squeeze!” Robin exclaimed.