I knew I had pyloric stenosis surgery as a baby (January 1965), because I’ve always had about a 3 inch scar across my stomach. It’s always been there–although my parents could tell you that, no, it wasn’t.
This is a surgery infants have (almost always it’s infants) to cure an obstruction in the digestive tract where the food won’t pass to the intestines. The surgeon is required to go in and unblock the exit [in the pylorus] to the large intestine, which the expanded muscle tissue has blocked.
Projectile vomiting is one of the clues that something is wrong.
It is not uncommon that babies end up malnourished, or worse.
My scar was a small topic of conversation at the Onjuku event last weekend, and so I figured afterwards I’d read up on pyloric stenosis. Once I had heard that they stopped treating it by surgery, and instead used some new drug, but apparently that’s not so–it’s stlll the knife.
The illness is common to first-born boys, of all kids, and science still isn’t sure what causes it. It runs in families, according to the Danish. There is anywhere from a one in 500 to one in 3000 chance of being a PS baby depending on your racial group; Caucasian babies seem to be more prone.
Actor Will Ferrell, one of the Frat Pack comedians from Saturday Night Live, was also a pyloric stenosis baby, so I learned on Google. So because of some movie (where he maybe shouldn’t have taken off his shirt, either!), the PS scar has come to be known as the “Will Ferrell scar”. (Since he’s younger than me, it’s really my scar that he has. But anyway.)
[Update: It turns out that the doctor who told my young mother to “bring that baby right down here immediately” was Dr. [Richard?] Goldsmith of Somerville, New Jersey. Mom had been given the run-around by some people associated with the practice, and when Goldsmith found out, he cut to the chase. I am not sure if he was the surgeon also.]