Tristan with mom Tamarah
"Now Tristan sleeps in the same position all night – he sleeps great."
– Tamarah, Mom
Tristan, an eight-year-old ham for the spotlight, had serious ear infections and a delay in speaking as a toddler. Pressure equalizer tubes (or “drainage”) tubes were put in when the family lived in Cincinnati. After a move to Maryland, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital.
The youngster had the sleep study performed, his doctors said, because of snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep.
The Johns Hopkins Pediatric Sleep Center at Mt. Washington happens to be where the second grader’s mother has worked for the past four years, about half of her career “in sleep,” as the Havre de Grace resident likes to put it.
“I wanted to bring Tristan to the best facility because he has a complex medical history and the Mt. Washington lab is the best in the area,” said Tamarah with home team pride. “The technicians are trained to work with all children, especially ones with special needs.”
Tristan has undergone “four surgeries by the tender age of eight,” said his mother, including the 2012 removal of his adenoids and tonsils, the most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in children.
“You’d think he’d be terrified of hospitals by now but the warm and welcoming environment at Mt. Washington makes him feel comfortable.”
Sleep apnea is estimated to affect more than ten million Americans and in children can cause hyperactivity due to restless sleep. Tamarah said the condition is often misdiagnosed and can be deceiving.
[Many don’t realize they have OSA, she said, noting that nightly or near-nightly snoring is an indication that a sleep study may be in order. Studies have show, his doctors said, that snoring does not have to be loud to be significant.]
Tristan’s brother Kyle had a sleep study done at Mt. Washington in 2014, and “we learned that Kyle also suffered from sleep apnea,” said Tamarah,
Because Tristan sleeps better, his mother said, “He’s doing better in school because he’s less tired.”
Part of the boy’s gratitude is expressed by his willingness – indeed the desire to ham it up mentioned earlier – to help Mt. Washington tell the world about the good things going on at its sleep clinic.
“He loves to see his face plastered everywhere,” said Tamarah, noting past promotions he has done for the hospital. In a bit of rough-housing with Kyle not long ago, Tristan received a scratch and went all Hollywood on his brother.
“Not my face,” he exclaimed, “I’m a model!”
A Cub Scout interested in math and science (his class is now studying the physics of objects that float and those that sink) Tristan is fascinated by heavy equipment and would like to work on a construction site when he grows up.
[His parents, Tamarah and husband Brian, a maintenance mechanic, are gently encouraging him to think about owning a construction company.]
But whether the boy grows up to drive a dump truck or own a fleet of dump trucks, he will be more alert on the job because of the help he received in childhood.
“When you improve the quality of anyone’s sleep they perform better and live happier lives,” said Tamarah, an idea seconded by Tristan, who said his favorite subjects in school are “recess and science.”
“They took good care of me at Mt. Washington,” he said.
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