Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bad news and beginning of a traumatic journey

I took BJ in to the doctor on Wednesday, 9/12 for blood work. He just looked so pale lately, and he just wasn't improving in the exercise part of football practice. I had been communicating with his home base teacher and she reported that he had laid his head down on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he looked so pale, he even looked greenish. He had also complained of leg cramps that didn't get better after eating bananas), pounding headaches when he was exercising, shortness of breath, and dizziness. They are all signs of anemia. I asked Dr. Schrader to test him for anemia, and she threw in several other blood tests (mono, thyroid, B5, B12, etc.) 

About 15 minutes after I got to work on Thursday 9/13, I received a call from Dr. Schrader saying BJ was very anemic, and I needed to take him to the Emergency room. His hemoglobin is 5.8...supposed to be between 12-16.

I left work and raced to North Lincoln Middle School to pick up BJ. We had to find out why he was so anemic.

We were delayed at every stop light down hwy 16, then right after we got on Brookshire blvd, my back passenger tire went flat. I've never had a flat tire in my life, and it had to happen now....

AAA wasn't coming fast enough...  A nice man named Ryan, who works for Habitat for Humanity stopped to help us. He helped find the spare in the car, and put it on. The spare was flat. He took it back off and took it to his warehouse and pumped it up. He brought it back shortly and put it on. He wouldn't take the money I offered, so I just thanked him and we were back on our way to Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte.

We got to the Children's ED about 11:00 and saw Dr. Weekes.

They drew labs and Dr. Weekes brought in a sonogram machine to look at BJ's
heart. It was pumping as it should. Then he put the wand on BJ's spleen. He
said..."well that's not what I wanted to see." He looked at me
intently. I asked him what that meant. Why would his spleen be enlarged? He
told me there are several things that could cause that, and offered up a short
list that included Leukemia. I didn't hear anything but Leukemia. I fought back
tears that wouldn't stay in and we just stared at each other for a few minutes.
Looking back, I think he knew right then what was wrong with BJ.

A short while later, Dr. Javier Oesterheld came into the room and
asked to speak with me outside. I noticed his "Pediatric Hematology
Oncology" name badge and my heart fell. This was a nightmare and I really
don't know how I even walked out of the ED room where BJ was and down the hall into
a conference room. We sat down, and he said "I am 99% sure that BJ has
Leukemia". I wasn't going to let myself believe that...I mean, he didn't
say he was 100% sure...I held on to that 1% with all the might I could muster.
He talked some more, and we went back into BJ's room. I walked in and he knew I
had been crying, and he wanted to know what was wrong. I just told him that
everything was going to be OK.

A while later, we were admitted to the 11th floor at Levine's. That night BJ got a blood transfusion. It was 2 units of blood and 1 unit of platelets. It takes about 2 hours per bag of blood to transfuse through the IV, and about an hour for a bag of platelets. They have to monitor his vitals every hour during a transfusion to look for any reaction. It was a long,
sleepless night for both of us. Not that I'd get any sleep without the hourly intrusion.
I was on automatic pilot and doing what I had to do for my baby, and trying to be as strong as I possibly could. I couldn't let the fear take over. BJ has always looked to me and gauged my reactions on how he should respond to things. I know that God is in control of this and so I started texting all my friends to let them know they needed to pray for BJ.

During the night, the monitor would alarm, because BJ's heart rate would go down into the 50s. The nurses said that BJ is so athletic, that a heart rate in the low 50s is nothing to be worried about. It took a few times of this alarm going off, for me to realize that she was probably right. By 3am while the last of the second unit of blood was infusing, you could see a difference in the color in his face.

He was sleeping peacefully for this moment, and he had the same glow in his face that he had before the Leukemia invaded his bone marrow. The transformation was amazing. They came in around 3:30am and hung the bag of platelets. Thankfully, there were no adverse reactions to him receiving the blood products.

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