But soon after success at the meet and celebrating with his team, Cal began to feel very sick. He lost a dramatic amount of weight very quickly. Within a few weeks he was rushed to the hospital where he had several blood transfusions.
Cal then visited with a pediatric gastroenterologist who explained that he had developed a serious case of ulcerative colitis. A few weeks later, Cal’s colon perforated and he needed emergency surgery to remove part of his colon, leading to an ileostomy. Just days after the surgery, post-surgery hemorrhaging caused Cal to require a second emergency surgery to save his life. While recovering, his swim team along with many other friends and neighbors came to visit, bringing encouragement and support.
“It was hard learning how to adjust to living with an ostomy at first, but I got used to everything after only two weeks and I am really glad to feel healthy again,” said Cal.
“I always knew that my surgery would not stop me from doing what I wanted to do, like playing sports”
Only a few months after his surgery, Cal was shooting hoops on his community basketball team and then played a full season of baseball! He also made an important decision. He wanted to do something to help other kids who suffered from ulcerative colitis. He joined with his mom, dad and sister to participate in a special event called Take Steps Be Heard, where they helped to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
“I always knew that my surgery would not stop me from doing what I wanted to do, like playing sports,” said Cal. “I am very thankful for the second chance that I have been given.”
In July 2011, Cal had j-pouch surgery and was able to participate in winter swim season practice. He is happy to feel well enough to compete again for his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama.