We were the lucky ones to welcome Kaden into our family when he was 7 months old. We were past the young parenting stage, or so we thought: we both have older children. There was something special about Kaden, we felt it the first time we met him. We instantly got thrown into the trenches, and we loved it. We did everything with Kaden, went everywhere with him, including dirt tracks to watch dirt track racing. His dad and I would go to racetracks to watch races together, before Kaden, then, as a family after Kaden. Kaden was at his first dirt track when he was 7 months old. It was one of those things we didn’t think twice about; it was second nature to us.
At a young age, our son Kaden was always strong-minded, very active little boy. When he was in the middle of an activity, he wouldn’t stop to do something different. That hindered him when it came to potty training. Kaden was fully potty trained at 3 years of age, but through the years we gradually started noticing urinary incontinence.
With Kaden being diagnosed with ADHD and the strong-willed little boy he was, we thought the incontinence was all behavior-based. We also noticed that his fluid intake was getting excessive. We asked his primary care physician for blood work and within 2 hours we were notified that Kaden’s creatinine was 3 times what it should be. They advised us to go to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and that is how Kaden’s journey of Stage 4 kidney disease began. That was in February of 2020. He was admitted for a urinary tract infection and comprehensively evaluated for causes of urinary tract infections. Testing showed he could not drain his bladder like other kids, which resulted in the infection and injured his kidney. After finding that he was in Stage 4 kidney failure, they detected his heart condition, too: left ventricular dysfunction and dilated cardiomyopathy. Kaden was then followed closely by the comprehensive urology/nephrology clinic.
During the time he received his diagnosis, Kaden never wavered in his spirit. As a family we talked and explained that our God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. We spoke with Kaden and told him that God chose him to be the leader for boys and girls going through the same issue, and God knew he was strong and could handle that role. We told him we would get through this by prayer and get through this thing TOGETHER. That became Kaden’s motto: “We will do this TOGETHER!”
Kaden is very open about his diagnosis. He will tell anybody that will listen about it. When he started school in the fall, he asked the teacher if he could stand before the class and tell them about his health issues. He’s a strong kid that never looked back, always looking forward.
As years went on, the roadtrips to watch dirt track racing became a daddy and son thing to do. They bonded over the love of dirt track racing. Kaden would tell his daddy, over and over, while sitting in the bleachers, “I am going to do this, Daddy, I want to race, I know I can do it.” Kaden’s dad used to race, so as a birthday present last year, Kaden’s daddy knew exactly what he needed to do: make Kaden’s dream came true.
Kaden’s dad ordered his race car when Kaden and I were in Florida visiting my older son, Kaden’s brother. What was supposed to be a week-long stay turned into a month stay. Kaden developed a kidney Infection the second day in Florida, that grew into what the hospital called a “Superbug.” A lot of antibiotics are resistant to the type of infection, and it was a scary time for all of us, including his dad who was still in Ohio because of work.
While speaking with me on the phone, Kaden’s dad, being absorbed with fear and emotion, told me he was going to order Kaden his race car. We wanted to get him a car a couple years before, but money was tight, and we knew it took a lot of money to race. The car was already ordered before we came home from Florida and now, we just had to wait.
The day finally came. We unloaded his race car and, of course, put a huge red bow on it. When Kaden got off the school bus, we opened the garage door. The joy, excitement and surprise radiated from his face.
Kaden is already longing for the day to move out of the Mini Wedge he’s currently in and into a bigger and faster car. When he’s out on that track he’s free: free of worry, of hurting, and the yet unknown of what his life will entail.
Kaden has been closely managed by his bladder and chronic kidney disease to prevent urinary tract infection, treat his bladder disorder, and manage the complications of chronic kidney disease. Kaden has to follow a regimented catheterization program and take multiple medications.
Nationwide Children’s has been a Godsend to our family during this journey. They have welcomed us like family, from inpatient to outpatient care. There is always a smiling face, a kind word and a lot of hugs when needed. We are so thankful and very blessed that Nationwide Children’s is in our “backyard,” and we wouldn’t want Kaden in any other place.
We don’t have enough words to describe Kaden’s medical team. They have played a pivotal role in Kaden’s outstanding and clarity of his diagnosis. From the moment we stepped into Nationwide Children’s and met Kaden’s team of doctors, the fear of the unknown and the helplessness we felt as parents quickly diminished. We noticed quickly that they were a force to be reckoned with. The knowledge and professionalism these doctors exuded and the radiant light they brought Kaden is beyond anything we could ask for as parents.
Kaden’s medical team consists of Dr. Brian Becknell (Nephrologist), Dr. Daryl McLeod (Urologist), Dr. Anne Dawson (Psychologist), Dr. Robert Gajarski (Cardiologist), Dr. John Spencer (Nephrologist) and Dr. Shawn Aylward (Neurologist). There are truly not enough words to say about this distinguished group of doctors, except they are the most fantastic thing that has happened to Kaden during this journey of his life! We couldn’t have hand-picked a better medical team for Kaden. He is getting the best kind of care by working collaboratively with multiple providers.
They’re always ready to listen to Kaden’s witty explanation of his race car, the racetracks he’s visited, and everything about the sport Kaden holds so dear to his heart. Kaden’s medical team is not only saving our son’s life in the physical sense, but they’re also enhancing his emotional health, from believing in him, pushing him to his goals, and in Kaden’s heart and mind, acting more like friends than his doctors.
Kaden will continue do what he loves more than anything: continue racing throughout his life. His dream is to drive for Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series. His love for the sport and his determination will one day get him that seat; we are sure of it.
Dr. Dawson adds, “Like many kids managing health concerns, Kaden struggled with understanding why this happened to him. Understandably, at times he would feel angry, frustrated, and want to avoid all the interventions. However, his family found something he loved in car racing, and having the opportunity to enjoy himself with other children helped to motivate him follow his schedule and take the best care of himself.”