Life turns on a dime.
This has been a difficult post to sit down and write, probably because the subject matter seems so unreal, so impossibly out of the blue. Still, it is real and we must face it, so this post marks the first of many steps in facing, and coming to terms with, what is going on with Kenny and all that may imply.
On Sunday, October 28, Jeff asked me if I noticed the pallor of Kenny’s face. His skin was tinged yellow, there was little color in his lips, and when his finger tips were pressed the color did not return quickly.
We chalked up those symptoms, as well as his recent fatigue, to the 24 hour fever he sweated out the night before. Jeff and I decided to watch his symptoms over the next few days before making an appointment to see the doctor. Our family does not go to the doctor at the first sign of sickness, but instead we wait it out. Usually our kids’ bodies do a good job of healing themselves with time, good food and rest.
Monday morning came without much change in Kenny’s skin tone, but we were comforted that he slept well the night before, seemed to feel better, and was fever free for over 24 hours. We decided to go ahead and attend our local homeschool co-op classes. At the end of the co-op day, one of Kenny’s teachers talked to me about his irritability in class, and his aunt, who coaches his P.E. class, let me know he could not run his half mile due to leg cramps. Following co-op, Kenny came home, ate lunch, and slept until well after dinner. He woke with a terrible headache, increased heart rate and still completely exhausted.
Jeff and I knew then that a doctor’s visit was needed and early Tuesday morning Jeff took Kenny in for his appointment while I stayed home to homeschool Emelie and Meredith. Dr. Chang drew some blood and sent Kenny home with the supplies necessary to collect a stool sample.
Within a couple of hours Dr. Chang called and told us to take Kenny to the hospital’s lab for more extensive blood work. He explained that Kenny was highly anemic and would most likely require a blood transfusion. Dr. Chang also let us know he needed the stool sample as soon as possible and emphasized Kenny’s need for rest – absolutely no physical exertion.
Not at all familiar with anemia, I began a short-lived Google search. With as little information as was available at the time, there were too many terrifying results to handle. Deciding to wait for more information before digging deeper, I called Jeff, who came home from work to take us to the hospital.
Knowing it was unlikely we would hear anything until Wednesday morning, we tried to set aside our fears by keeping to our regular Tuesday evening schedule of Sonic Burgers and DVR’ed episodes of our favorite television shows. Shortly into the programming Kenny began crying. His head hurt when he tried to concentrate on the TV, so he and I spent the evening talking and reading (which surprisingly did not bother his head as much) in mine and Jeff’s bed until we both fell asleep.
Jeff stayed home from work on Wednesday as we waited on the lab results and further direction. Dr. Chang called in the late morning to let us know Kenny needed an immediate blood transfusion. Kenny’s hemoglobin was dangerously low (5.4) and the doctor wanted it at least above an 8.
Wednesday evening was spent in the hospital. At Kenny’s request the whole family came. The girls, understanding Kenny needed a distraction, entertained him (as well as the hospital staff) with their fake mustaches and Napoleon Dynamite references (“Vote for Pedro”).
Our friends also came up and visited for a short while, which was awesome. Kenny usually attends AWANA on Wednesday nights, but was obviously unable to attend that particular night. Our church’s Associate Pastor and Children’s Minister, Mr. Monte, brought Kenny a large “card” full of get well messages from the leaders and students who were in AWANA that night. It was a great encouragement for Kenny and also proved to be another wonderful distraction since everyone arrived about the same time the transfusion began.
After a short while Kenny’s heart rate began to escalate and the nurse put Kenny on oxygen. Understanding it was time to leave, Mr. Monte read a comforting scripture and led the group in prayer for Kenny. We were so very thankful for all the love, support and prayers that came through that evening from our family and friends.
It was a long night. Jeff and the girls headed home around 12:30 and it was just me and Kenny after that until Jeff returned around 5:00 am. It broke my heart to watch Kenny struggle with his fears. He is an information hound, so both the nurses and I explained whatever he wanted to know as it seemed to calm him. Still, he was tired of blood draws, tired of the process and afraid. He fully understood that the blood transfusion was simply a bandaid on a bigger problem that we don’t yet know or understand.
Around 2:00 am the transfusion was over, at 3:30 his blood was drawn again, and after that, he slept – we slept. We were able to leave late the next morning when his hemoglobin results indicated an 8.4 and we are scheduled for another appointment on Wednesday of this upcoming week.
In the meantime, this is what we now know:
- Kenny is not losing blood in his urine or stool.
- Kenny is not iron deficient.
- Kenny’s white blood cell and platelet count do not appear to be low.
- While the blood work has not yet been viewed by a pediatric hematologist, the red blood cells (RBCs) do not seem to indicate cancer.
And at present, that’s all we know. There is talk that this could have been caused by a virus in the bone marrow, though that is only speculation right now (and may require a bone marrow aspiration in the near future). Following our doctor’s appointment on Wednesday we will be referred to a Pediatric Hematologist.
Please keep Kenny in your prayers. We are asking for doctor’s wisdom and for perfect healing. Our faith gives us peace because we know Kenny is a child of God and as much as we love him completely, God loves him more. We believe in God’s perfect plan for his life and are trying to rest in the Father who created him.