ABC News recently aired a story about 3 year old Rhett Lamb who is physically unable to sleep. Since birth, Rhett has never been able to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, resulting in severe irritability throughout the day and utter exhaustion for his parents.
Though initially passed off as poor sleep habits and an overly anxious mother, the passage of time with no improvement in sleep resulted in the discovery of the true, albeit rare, cause: chiari malformation.
According to Marie Savard, an ABC medical consultant, the condition occurs as follows:
"The brain literally is squeezed into the spinal column. What happens is you get compression, squeezing, strangulating of the brain stem, which has all the vital functions that control sleep, speech, our cranial nerves, our circulatory system, even our breathing system."
This week, doctors will be performing surgery during which a bone around his brain stem and spinal chord will be removed, providing decompression with more space and, hopefully, relief from these horrible symptoms.
There was a video that accompanied this story, which included an interview with the boy and his parents. The interview revealed desperate parents and a very unhappy boy who would not stop moaning and swatting at his mother. It is a truly hard to watch, and my heart really goes out to this family.
I will certainly post a follow-up post when news of the surgery's success becomes available....and I will stop complaining about my own little man's struggle with nighttime sleep.