Phil has a condition called Hydrocephalus which requires a medical device called a shunt to release trapped spinal fluid from his brain to his stomach/intestines in order to be discharged. He has been in and out of surgery for this condition over 40 times since he was 5 days old. Each one of these surgeries have been high risk in nature and require a long time to recover (generally 3 months – 1 year and sometimes longer).
When Phil was only 3 days old he began experiencing seizures that occurred throughout the night. By the 5 th day of his life he had his first of many surgeries. At that time there was very little research done on Hydrocephalus and his doctors really didn't know how to treat him. After a week of evaluations the doctors broke the news to my parents telling them that their son would be severely handicapped, and basically would be a vegetable his whole life.
Fortunately, one of his Doctors had heard about a new experimental medical device called a shunt! The shunt is a tiny tube the size of a small electrical wire that would drain the excess spinal fluids from the ventricles of his brain down to his stomach. The doctor warned them that this would be a very risky procedure and odds were not good, but my parents had trusted in The Lord that He would protect their baby boy. Phil was the first patient in this hospital’s history ever to receive this procedure, and it worked!
The shunt worked but the doctors had conceded that the amount of trauma to his brain would cause him to be permanently blind. My parents being devout in their Faith in God and the power of prayer shared this information with their local church prayer group to pray for Phil’s protection and healing.
Soon after, they took Phil to a specialist in St. Louis where they ran test and declared and documented that Phil was legally blind. My parents shared this devastating news with their prayer group and they continued to pray for a miracle. Again, this was all within the first month of Phil’s life.
After Phil had recovered from the surgery he was crawling around on the ground and my Dad noticed that Phil was following the smoke from my Aunt’s cigarette with his eyes. My parents didn’t say anything but they were all thinking the same thing. After a few minutes my Aunt proclaimed, “look he's watching that trail of smoke!”
My parents had contacted his doctor about this discovery and the doctor reassured them that his optical portion of his brain was not functional it was lifeless and pale it was impossible that Phil could see. But my parents insisted and they went back down to St. Louis for another set of tests. They sat with the doctor after the tests and again he re-assured them that with the optical portion of his brain being so white he would not be able to see but the fact was that Phil was able to see. The doctor provided the documentation and my parents shared this with their prayer group. To this day the optical portion of Phil’s brain is still pure white but he has had his sight ever since. This is just one of many miracles that has happened in Phil’s life!
Phil's last shunt revision was 22 years ago when he was 18 years old. Which is a miracle in itself because the average life expectancy of a shunt is only 10 years.
I remember his last operation well because it was scheduled a few weeks before his High School graduation. Phil had worked so hard for that diploma and with the help of wonderful doctors and God’s grace Phil was able to go to his graduation.
But no matter how bad things got, my brother always found the silver lining and never stopped pushing forward. He continued his education at Saddleback College and has been a contributing member of society ever since. The guy they said would never walk, talk, or see daylight was now employed and living completely independently.
Now there's something you need to know about my brother, he doesn't want your pity. In fact, he probably wouldn't be happy that I'm sharing his story publicly with you because he won’t allow his condition to define him. Since my parents raised him just like the rest of us, he is exactly like the rest of us, only better. He treats everyone with respect and never judges anyone. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. He is a comedian and loves to make people laugh. His dry settle and sarcastic humor will make you question "should I laugh? Is he being serious?" Which he finds hilarious! He has a heart that size of a lion and is as brave as any man I've ever met.
He seems to touch anyone that he comes in contact with and people are just drawn towards him with love and compassion. But Phil would never admit any of this. He would simply describe himself as "a Bud Man and a Cub Fan" and leave it at that. Phil just thinks of himself as someone that is doing the best he can with what he has. He has been fortunate enough to be able to live independently for the majority of his adult life. He works whatever jobs he can find and brings smiles to people's faces everywhere he goes. Phil has overcome a lot of obstacles in his life but all he ever asks for is for people to just be his friend... That's all he really wants!
Thank you all for reading his story.
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