Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's Leukemia!

September 13th, 2009 started out strangely. Sam, my 5 year old son, had been upset all night and was now hitting his fist against the couch in pain and frustration. The past couple of weeks had been spent visiting doctors for a variety of reasons, including the possibility that he had heart problems.

Sam had been complaining of headaches for several months but they were generally infrequent. Recently, he had been troubled by a pain in his chest..he said it felt like his heart was 'pushing him". This led to my first visit to the local doctor who agreed to do a EKG but thought there was nothing to worry about.

The results came back as abnormal! I was terrified as the doctor said it looked like Sam had an enlarged heart...but not to fear as it could be an error by the technician. Not one to let things rest, I plagued the recommended pediatric cardiologist (including a phone call from my neighbor who knows the secretary well). One echocargiogram later we were told Sam was fine with a very slight heart murmur but nothing to worry about.

Thursday, Sept 10th, both boys had their annual physical. For this we took them to our pediatrician in White Plains. Clean bill of health all round but some concern over the headaches and I was asked to keep a headache diary and an Xray was ordered to check out the chest pains. This doctor was not settling for the results we had.

Saturday night I called our pediatrician as Sam was so uncomfortable. She recommended seeing if a fever started and then taking him to the ER. I did get up and dressed that night but Sam fell back to sleep without a fever and so I left it.

Sunday morning I knew I should not wait for a fever and we marched off to the Tully Center. Once again they felt there was not much to be concerned about but they did want blood tests so sent us to the ER. I almost left as Sam was feeling better but something told me to stay.

The first diagnoses was constipation. This made sense as Sam had not eaten or passed anything for a couple of days. Then the blood work came back. Doctors mean well and I cannot imagine having to break bad news to a mother, but he rubbed my arm as he entered and I know something was life-threateningly wrong. The ER doctor asked the technician waiting to take Sam for more Xrays to leave...again...my mind was racing.

I stood face to face with a man who would have done anything but tell me my son had white blood cell counts that went through the roof. The room started to close in... I looked at Sam and knew our life was changing. I asked what that indicated...Leukemia. I asked if there could be anything else...ANYTHING!. No...the white blood cell count was too high to doubt it...but Sam need to have new tests to formally diagnose it.

Nothing seemed real! Surely the tests would prove he was wrong...the doctor's head shook...no. Sam had Leukemia.

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