Joshua Naicker (22 months) is a little bundle of joy. “He’s always smiling, even when he cries,” says his mother, Phillecia. “Just a tickle or singing to him has him laughing in an instant.”
Joshua was born at 33 weeks and doctors immediately diagnosed him with hydrocephaly, or “water on the brain” as it’s commonly known. So far the little tot has undergone six operations – the most recent one was hip surgery which means his little body has to be in a cast for six weeks. Three were brain operations.
Still, none of the procedures have put a dampener on him or changed his bubbly personality, Phillecia says of her only child. “He handles pain like a champion. Nothing can keep him down. I’m simply amazed at his resilience. I’m so proud of him.”
Adds the boy’s father, Bradley (36): “His daily activities are so challenging and he can’t perform any tasks independently such as sitting, standing, crawling, playing, eating or drinking.” The family live in Midrand, Gauteng.
Apparently Joshua will need to undergo another brain operation because the pipe that drains fluid from his brain sometimes doesn’t function properly, Phillecia explains. “We’ll never be able to say how many operations he’ll need to have, but we pray there won’t be many more.”
The fluid on his brain also affects Joshua’s health in other ways. He can, for example, hardly see anything around him.
“Due to him not being able to see we’ve learnt with therapy to be his eyes,” his mother says. “We explain everything in detail – what he’s eating, then tell him to smell it, open his mouth, take a bite, and ask him if likes it. We tell him the colour of the spoon.”
The also help him to do daily exercises to stimulate his core muscles and strengthen his chest and neck. “He’s just started sitting independently for a few seconds at a time,” Phillecia says proudly.
Their plan is eventually to take Joshua for stem cell therapy at Duke University in North Carolina, America.
“He’s made us realise the amount of strength within us,” Phillecia says. “He’s brought so much love and happiness into our lives. He’s made us stronger and braver then before.”