You Never Want to Say “Hey, Bomber!” on a Plane

According to the Mayo Clinic, Pyloric stenosis is an uncommon condition affecting the opening (pylorus) between the stomach and small intestine in infants. The pylorus is a muscular valve that holds food in the stomach until it is ready for the next stage in the digestive process.

In pyloric stenosis, the pylorus muscles thicken, blocking food from entering the baby’s small intestine. Pyloric stenosis can lead to forceful vomiting, dehydration and weight loss. Babies with this condition may seem to always be hungry. Pyloric stenosis can be fixed with surgery.

I bore you with this medical jargon for good reason. Pyloric stenosis runs in my family. For three generations now, members of my family have dealt with this serious, but completely treatable, condition. It can be a very scary ordeal, especially since it happens during infancy. But like most serious matters in my family, pylorics has brought us all much joy along with the pain.

It started out roughly sixty-five years ago. My dad’s younger brother Larry was born. A few weeks later he got very sick. He was lucky because diagnosing pyloric stenosis was a relatively new thing. Before this time, babies would dehydrate and die. Not Lar-Bear. He underwent surgery and lived happily ever after. With the scar to prove it.

My grandparents were told that this condition runs in the family, but you can not pass it on to your own child. So we all grew up knowing this as, there is no son of pyloric. And there was no reason to question this rare occurrence because that is exactly how it went down in my family.

Larry passed it on to three of his nephews (his brothers’ kids), but not to any of his own kids. My brother Dat suffered from pylorics and so did my first born son. Which made perfect sense to all of us. The uncle passes it on to his nephew. Not his own children. Just like the doctors told my grandparents years ago.

My cousin Bomber was the first of the next generation to be afflicted. He had it so bad that he projectile vomited all the way across the room. For some reason everyone started calling this poor, sick, newborn baby, Bomber. And it stuck. I mean really stuck. I only know a handful of people who know his real name. And most of those people are dead.

When I was about twelve years old, I started to think that Bomber was an odd name. So I asked him if that was indeed his real name or a nickname. He said it was a nickname and that his real name was Aloysius. I just thought, no wonder they call him Bomber.

One time my dad and Bomber took a flight together. They realized quickly that you never want to say, “hi, Jack” or “hey, Bomber” to one another on a plane. Luckily, this was pre 9-11. But another time, I addressed an envelope to Bomber and it was returned by the post office as not deliverable. That was post 9-11. True story.

The next victim of pyloric was my brother Dat. A few weeks after he was born he underwent pylorics surgery. A few months later, Little Fanny, Bomber’s younger brother, went through the same ordeal. I am not sure why he wasn’t called Bomber Junior.

By the time the third generation came to be, pyloric’s ugly head wasn’t even on our radar. Until my first born son was born. At exactly four weeks old, he started spitting up. I was a first time mom, so I didn’t know what was going on. His spitting up quickly turned to projectile vomiting and as soon as I gave my family history, he was taken into surgery as well. Just like the two generations before him. He was the golden boy of pylorics. A textbook example.

Then came the game changer.

My brother Dat and his wife Meggy had their fourth child a few years ago. It was a boy and sure enough he started to exhibit the signs of the family legacy. But this could not be. Dat had pylorics. And you can’t pass it on to your own spawn. Or were we all living a lie for sixty some odd years?

It’s unfortunate that I was not at the hospital to hear Dat tell the doctors that there is no such thing as a son of pyloric. I would have liked to have seen the looks on the doctors faces when they asked him where in God’s name he had heard that? Evidently, that is just a myth. A myth that no one else in the world had ever heard of except my family.

The doctor undoubtedly gave an eye roll and prepped for surgery. We not only had to say good-bye to the baby’s stenosis that day, but also to our claim to fame. When Dat called me to say the baby was about to be operated on, my exact words were, “tell those doctors there is no such thing as the son of pyloric”.

But like most things I say, no one listened. I was flabbergasted. There was only one logical explanation for all of this, as far as I was concerned. After careful consideration, I realized Dat was clearly not the father of this baby. It was obvious Juan must be the father. There is no doubt in my mind. But, you know me, that’s none of my business.

Uncle Larry still thinks the doctors are wrong. There is no son of pyloric. Dat and Meggy’s baby is undoubtedly just a miracle. And don’t even get Aunt Batsy started on the subject. We all just give each other knowing glances. We know the truth. And some day it might just come out on an episode of Maury.

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