Nicole Overton knew something was wrong with her son Mayken at the age of 5 when his nose bleeds would last for hours. Although doctors had suggested it was allergies, saline rinses and cauterization of blood vessels in his nose wouldn’t work. Answers finally came during surgeries to remove his tonsils and adenoids, and doctors saw Mayken wouldn’t stop bleeding.
Shortly after, Mayken was diagnosed with Von Willebrand’s disease, which prevents his blood from clotting correctly.
"We were just scared, fearful of what it all meant," Overton said.
Overton has tried to protect her son, now 15, from injuries that can lead to bleeds while allowing him to lead a normal life. She had home schooled him up until this school year to better monitor his health.
The Overtons are part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which each year highlights the needs of 12 families and helps hundreds of others through local nonprofits. The Overtons were nominated by Any Baby Can.
Mayken’s favorite thing about returning to school is playing baseball. He loves the competition, he said, and hopes to play professionally in the future. All that Overton ask is that he not play catcher and minimize sliding into bases.
"I’ve gone through phases, even to this day, of putting him in a bubble, no letting him be a kid, putting him the bubble, no letting him be a kid," Overton said.
The internal struggle of protecting and letting her kid be a kid also extends to her two younger sons. Son Kafry, 5, has von Willebrand’s and was born with a birth defect Chiari malformation that squeezed part of his brain. Three-year-old Saben has a more severe case of that birth defect, but does not have Von Willebrand’s.
Their youngest, 6-month-old Greeley, is healthy but doctors are monitoring whether he has any of his siblings’ conditions.
Although their children’s medical debt has ballooned to $24,000, Overton said the family tries to maintain normalcy by staying busy.
Among their favorite activities is cheering Mayken on during his baseball games.
Very little on the Overton’s Season for Caring wish list has been met. The Overtons need help with past medical debt, a sectional couch, pest control, an automatic garage door system, protective baseball gear for son Mayken; equine therapy for Saben, YMCA activities for Kafry and diapers for Greeley, as well as respite care and gift cards for food, restaurants and clothing.
For more information about the Overton family, contact Any Baby Can, 512-454-3743, anybabycan.org.