For Dane Aronsten, his first day of day care last Tuesday marked the start of catching up on a childhood interrupted by heart and digestive conditions.
It was also the first day his mother, Janelle Aronsten, had to herself since Dane’s birth four years ago.
Dane’s condition inflicted painful reflux on the Mount Warrigal four-year-old, rendering eating and drinking an agonising process.
He depended on a life support feeding tube until last year when community fund-raising made successful treatment with specialist Dr Markus Wilken possible.
Mrs Aronsten was thrilled to see Dane join his twin sister Remi at day care last week, nearly a year after she started.
‘‘He’s finally hitting normality. Before this I had to set up a day care for him at home,” she said.
“Hopefully being in this environment, he’ll continue developing in leaps and bounds.’’
When Dane was born, he was significantly bigger then his twin but a heart operation soon after birth saw his weight plummet to that of a premature baby.
As a result Dane hit milestones, like sitting and standing, much later than Remi.
Before treatment, the feeding pump apparatus made it impossible for Dane to sleep continuously for his first 18 months.
“We couldn’t lay him down properly with the tubes and his stomach had problems emptying out when he slept. He didn’t sleep and neither did we for 18months,” Mrs Aronsten said.
However, Mrs Aronsten is optimistic that he will soon catch up with his twin.
‘‘Hopefully this means he’ll be able to transition to school with Remi. That would be amazing,’’ she said.
A side benefit from Dane’s successful treatment was that Mrs Aronsten was able to leave Dane in the care of others for the first time since his birth.
‘‘After everything we’ve been through with the twins I don’t want to say I needed a day off but I was excited about having a cup of tea and a few hours to myself,’’ she said.
The Aronstens wanted to thank everyone who helped raise the $20,000 for Dane’s treatment.
‘‘Milestones like this wouldn’t be possible without the community’s generosity,” Mrs Aronsten said.