The writer’s 14-month-old son, Theo, was in the midst of an undiagnosed, debilitating disease that caused frequent seizures and left him lethargic, nauseous and groggy all the time. Bolonik and her wife struggled daily to encourage Theo to eat, but he outright refused to take enough nourishment in. That was until they discovered his caretaker’s trick for coaxing the toddler into eating full meals — Justin Bieber.
Erin would bribe Theo to comply by playing Bieber’s “Baby” video on repeat. He soon would demand that “bee-bee, bay-bee” be played during any task he had to endure — and it worked.
Bolonik quipped she had “sworn that Bieber would never be allowed in our household, but desperate times call for desperate measures.” The track was played so frequently that it became a “white noise” in their household, she writes.
Unfortunately, Theo’s seizures continued until Bolonik was able to get him under a dedicated diagnostic team at Mount Sinai hospital. The exhaustive testing wore on Theo every day, and the “Baby” video soon did little to soothe his spirits.
During one particular incident, as Theo was thrashing in rebellion, his doctor and nurses, unprompted, began singing “Baby” aloud. Theo’s tears immediately stopped streaming as he gaped at the group in disbelief.
Bolonik writes, ” ‘They know this song?’ he was clearly thinking, and so was I. I’d forgotten that ‘Baby’ existed outside our crisis.”
At the end of his extended stay, the team ultimately diagnosed Theo with “hyperinsulinism,” a rare disorder that functions opposite of diabetes — his pancreas was producing too much insulin. Thankfully he was able to receive a simple and life-saving treatment, the drug diazoxide, which would regulate his blood sugar and restore Theo to the vibrant toddler he used to be.
These days Theo has moved on from Bieber (his new jam is Pharrell’s “Happy”), but who knows what healing relief the Bieb’s smooth vocals could bring in the future?