I’m not exactly sure where to begin this post.
But I think it’s best to start with the day I finally realized that something was terribly wrong with my four year old son, David.
It was a Saturday night (August 3rd), and I was looking through old pictures of my family. I needed to find a picture that best represented our family to turn in for an upcoming writing assignment. As I looked further back to older pictures that were stored on my laptop, my eyes fell on this one.
I immediately noticed how different David looked in this picture compared to how he’d been looking over the past few months. I noticed the color in his face, his pink lips, and his smile. He looked…healthy and happy.
That was my David.
He’d somehow disappeared over the months and become the David we knew now….cranky, cold, tired, and often lashing out at siblings.
Ruben and I had been noticing changes in David’s behavior but never thought it was something I needed to make a doctor’s appointment for. We didn’t know what the problem was but whatever it was, we thought David was just different than our other four kids. He needed to ride in the stroller when we’d go out because of how quickly he’d become tired. And we needed to remember to leave the house with a jacket for him for when he’d be cold…when no one else was cold.
After I admired the happy, healthy-looking picture of David.
My eyes fell on this picture.
It still takes my breath away.
And I feel like the stupidest mom in the world when I see it.
Ruben took this picture of our five kids when we were in Chicago at the end of July for the BlogHer’13 conference. He spent time with the kids while I went attended the conference.
Immediately, when I saw this picture, I knew something was terribly wrong with David. I called Ruben over to look at the pictures and told him I’d be making a doctor’s appointment for David on Monday.
But then I woke up on Sunday morning, and I started noticing everything wrong about David. The insanely difficult mornings filled with anger, screaming, and crying, trying to get him ready for the day weren’t normal.
David wasn’t simply “not a morning person.” He was sick. The constant requests for someone to “sit with me or lay with me” weren’t just David wanting to cuddle. He was tired and had no energy. The change is his overall color — it was real and not my imagination.
Ruben had gone to church that morning with our older kids while I stayed home with the little ones, because we had a virus of some sort going through our family. I text messaged him and told him that I’d be taking David straight to the emergency room once he was home.
When we arrived at the ER, I carried David inside because he was too tired to walk. After a brief rundown with the person at the desk, David was taken straight back, and the ER doctor immediately knew that something was wrong.
She was right.
David’s hemoglobin was at 2. (A normal level is anywhere from 11.5-13.5.)
He had a platelet count of 6. (A normal platelet count is anywhere from 150-400.)
And his white blood cells were low.
My mind was trying to understand what these numbers written on a white sheet of paper meant for my son. I found the courage to ask the doctor for the bottom line.
She wasted no time in telling me that she believed David had leukemia. He would be transferred by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
To be continued….
David’s Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia
- Pale/Yellow skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Petechiae (tiny red or purple spots on David’s body)
One of my goals for writing these posts is to raise further awareness about aplastic anemia and even encourage others to register for the national bone marrow registry, Be the Match. Lord willing, someone in this registry will save my son’s life. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments, and I’ll share as much as I can.