Errol Milner Clifford 2006-2009

Errol Milner Clifford was born with a significant heart defect and a cognitive disability that prevented him from walking or talking. As we grieved the child we had anticipated, Errol’s full-bodied smile and irrepressible laugh turned our sorrow into joy, and taught us that many of the best things in life are unexpected. Inspired by Errol’s delightful spirit, friends, family, and neighbors rallied to support our family’s significant emotional, physical, and financial needs, through countless acts of selfless generosity. When Errol’s courageous heart finally failed him on December 23, 2009 we were left numb with grief. In these dark hours we listen hopefully for the echoes of Errol’s brilliant laugh. This blog is the story (starting from present and working back to Errol's birth) of the life and times of the amazing Errol Clifford.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hospital Update

Errol had his heart catheterization today. He is out of surgery and is sleeping off the anesthesia in his hospital room where he will be staying overnight. The surgery went well and soon we should have a good idea when his next surgery will be. I'll update you as more information becomes available. Thanks for your many thoughts of Errol today. We feel the love all the way up on the 11th floor of Baptist Hospital.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seeds of Love for Errol

Tomorrow, we return to the hospital for Errol's heart cath. We face tomorrow full of anxiety, trepidation, and sorrow, but we do not go into these hard times alone.  Seeds of Love for Errol is a community project that is a beacon of light for our family. We would be lost without our family and friends. They light our way. 

The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.
~John Greenleaf Whittier

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Out of the Swallow Study and into the Heart Catheterization

Today was a good day at the hospital for Errol. He passed his swallow test with flying colors (he’s been studying hard), and the technicians were so impressed with his swallowing abilities that they have recommended a decrease in the thickness of Errol’s foods (thin is the goal). The goat’s milk worked! We’re ecstatic about Errol’s progress and attribute it the removal of dairy from his diet. Mad props are due to Sarah Girard and Dr. Christiaanse for their astute diagnosis. HOORAY! 

But we aren’t done with Baptist Hospital, and will return there at 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning for Errol’s heart catheterization. Dr. Williams, one of the pediatric-cardiologists (a cardiologist for children, not an eight year old cardiologist), will insert a microscopic camera into Errol’s femoral artery (ouch) and then up, up, up to map out his heart. The heart cath is a minor procedure compared to July’s open-heart surgery, but major enough to make us anxious as hell. And this is one of those times it’s good that Errol doesn’t really know what’s going on until it’s going on. The heart catheterization is considered out patient surgery, but with Errol (Curveball, to the cardiology staff) we can usually count on quintupling the length of the predicted stay. Needless to say, we are packing our suitcases for Friday. We’ll update this blog as soon as we have news from Friday’s procedure. Wish Errol luck.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Errol's amazing teachers

Three years has meant three amazing classrooms at The Children's Center. Here is The Little Man with the wonderful Ms. Jennifer who is incredibly observant and probably reads Errol better than anyone in the world besides his mother. His other teacher, Paula (who is not pictured) treats him like he is her own son! We could hope for nothing more for Errol! 

Every year we cry over Errol's leaving his classroom/home (Anne, Audrey, Paula, Karen, Tamara, Susan!!!!) and every year he gets placed in another stimulating and loving environment.

Errol adores his teachers and so do we!

Ockham's Razor

Ockham’s razor is a principle of succinctness that proposes that the simplest answer is usually the best. 

Since Errol was born three years ago we’ve been trying to figure out how to ameliorate his reflux, which has recently worsened. Because of his reflux, Errol wheezes constantly, throws up every other meal, drools profusely, and has been waking up throughout the night. We’ve tried all sorts of medicines and recently even considered a surgical procedure to contain Errol’s worsening reflux, but nothing has really worked. Finally, a few weeks ago, in desperation, we took Errol to a gastroenterologist. The doctor asked few question, proffered no solution, and offered  little hope, “It will get worse.” He cautioned. 

Errol worsened, and we became more and more anxious.

We took Errol to see Dr. Christiaanse, his developmental pediatrician. She puzzled over his reflux and asked lots of questions about his diet. She called in a dietician and they worked through a number of scenarios. Finally she asked, “Have you tried goat's milk?”

We hadn’t.

We should, she said.

We did.

It worked. Errol has had a dramatic change. He is strong and healthy, and his wheezing and congestion have all but disappeared.

The answer was simple. It just took a smart person to ask such a basic question.

We are overjoyed. So is Errol. 

Errol goes for his barium swallow study tomorrow. (Looks like he's undertaking his own special swallow study in the picture above.) Wish him well.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Yesterday, Errol embarked on a tour of all of the nation’s doctor’s offices with a trip to Greensboro to see his optometrist, Doctor Young (#853). Today, Errol continues his journey with a visit to his developmental pediatrician, on Monday, he makes a call on his dentist, two Wednesdays later he has his barium swallow study at Baptist Hospital, followed two days later by his heart catheterization. A medically busy time, even for the little man.  

On Saturday, our dog, Waffles kicked off the celebration by eating Errol’s signature eyeglasses. Bad dog. Luckily for the doggie, Doctor Young said Errol needed new glasses anyway.

Dr. Young also had bad news for us today. Errol has become much more nearsighted since his last visit. His nearsightedness could stabilize, or it could worsen, possibly causing a detached retina, which, untreated, would leave Errol blind. We have to keep a keen eye on his eyes so that we catch any detachment. Otherwise, the consequences would be catastrophic.

We hope Errol's nearsightedness stabilizes, and we will be watching his eyes like hawks to make sure we catch any problems that develop.

Think of Errol.