Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On this day...

I love when I look at Facebook and the "On This Day…." reminder comes up.  A familiar photo of a special time with family and friends, a post about the events of a fantastic day…but when October/November comes, those posts are often ones I would rather not remember. 

It was only three years ago when my Caeleb was in the hospital constantly.  Bleed after bleed, pain that would linger for days and days on end…the memories flood back.  Halloween decorations covering a sterile hospital room would mask what would be a very painful time of year for Caeleb.  But last night he took to the streets dressed as Darth Vader walking on his own, no wheelchair in sight.

My husband and I were talking about the Halloween nights we would take Caeleb trick or treating in his wheelchair and help him "hop" to the door.  We also remembered how we never really saw how steep the driveways in our neighborhood were until we had to use that wheelchair :)

It still amazes me how those times of living in crisis can come flooding back in an instant.  Sometimes it’s a smell that brings back those memories.  Other times it's a holiday or birthday when we reminisce and realize, "Oh yeah, we were in the hospital that year."

I have seen Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in my son.  For the longest time, after his long stints in the hospital were done, we would go into the clinic and his behavior would revert back to that of fear.  The scary part is that I have seen it in my husband and in myself as well.

I know that time heals and sometimes complacency helps, but when you live with a rare, chronic disorder, you just never know when something is going to happen and crisis mode begins.  I can either live in fear of the next crisis or live in gratitude that all is well.  I choose gratitude every time.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Little Reminders

I love when life is going well, no complications, food in the pantry, work is good, the house is somewhat clean and my sons are in good health.  With the start of a new school year, I haven't thought much about Caeleb's starting 5th grade because he has been bleed free for over a year.

Over a year!

Right before school started, our hematologist wanted to take blood from Caeleb for a half-life study.  Knowing that with his inhibitor registering zero, the fact that it is still floating around is fact.  The last time we checked his half-life it was about 4 hours and to be tolerized he needs to be around 6 hours. 

When the nurse called and said that his inhibitor was now registering .65, my heart stopped for a second.  I know numbers aren't everything, but I do hate that it is actually registering again.  Nonetheless, he is doing great.

Caeleb has always wanted to ride the bus to school, but with his mobility issues it has never been possible.  This year we decided to give it a try.  The bus stop is only 2 houses down the street, so off he went on his first day.  I stood in the front yard watching as my husband, Joe, went along with Caeleb to make sure all was well.  When Joe came back he said, "Those steps are a little steep and it took him a minute." 

It's one of those subtle reminders that yes, the damage to his knee and ankle are real.  He adjusts to whatever is thrown his way physically and does it so well that our family doesn't even notice. 

Little reminders of things in the past are good.  They keep us "honest" and help us to not forget about what is important.  I believe it is important to remember where we have been no matter how painful.  It helps to appreciate how good things are now and how much better they will continue to be.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

When a TSA Agent Accused Me of Faking My Son’s Disability

Both of my sons have hemophilia, which is a rare genetic bleeding disorder. This disorder doesn’t allow their blood to clot and can cause internal bleeding, especially into the joints.
My youngest son, Caeleb, had some extreme complications with his hemophilia, which caused a great deal of damage to his knee and ankle. The complications he endured at such a young age aren’t exactly the norm for most young boys with hemophilia. In his case, he lost mobility for 18 months. He uses a wheelchair but could limp or hop for a few steps. Eventually, he was at the point where he could walk with just a hint of a limp, but long distances weren’t possible.
In order to treat Caeleb’s complications, we traveled between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Denver often.   Click here to read the rest of the story on The Mighty.
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

A "Normal" Year

My mighty warrior, Caeleb, just completed the fourth grade.  For most families moving from one grade to the next with their children is not a horribly big deal.  In our home this is a huge milestone this year.  Caeleb's fourth grade year has been the first year since Pre-K where he did not miss school because of bleeds and hospitalizations.  It has been the first year that he has attended school with no hemophilia incidents (just a few ear infections).  The. First. Year!

His reading and math scores have shot up, he has figured out how to relate to his friends socially and he has just had a wonderful year.  And to top it off, he has decided he is ready to learn how to self-infuse, so he is going to hemophilia camp in June.

Hemophilia was the center of our lives for quite a long time, and now it's not.  It's just part of our day.  That's our normal.

God is good.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Guest Posting at BeingFibroMom.com

When I read stories about people living with chronic illness I am absolutely fascinated. It’s not that the details of their illness particularly fascinate me, but it’s what I have in common with them that deeply resonates in my heart. I am the mother of two sons with severe Hemophilia A and life with a bleeding disorder can be very difficult. My oldest son, Julian who is 19, has not had many complications throughout his life. He infuses himself regularly, and a young man self-infusing is not “normal” for most, but for him it’s just part of his world. My youngest son, Caeleb who is 10, is my mighty warrior. This precious boy has endured six ports, thousands of infusions and more hospital stays than I can count. He lived through some of the most excruciating pain I have ever witnessed, lost mobility for over a year and has severe joint damage. Despite all of that, he is a happy, well-adjusted boy who enjoys school and recess and has a compassionate heart. It’s been a rough journey.
To read the rest of the post visit www.beingfibromom.com/a-prisoner-of-hope.
Thank you, Brandi!

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

My stomach turned

For about two years my son, Caeleb, was in a wheelchair.  He was able to use a walker in the house and sometimes in his classroom, but if you have ever seen a child use a walker, it breaks your heart.  I don't know why I could handle seeing him in his wheelchair without any issue, but the walker...not so much.

Last week Caeleb was playing outside without his shoes on (because he's never been told to wear shoes outside....yeah, right).  A nail got the bottom of his heel and my husband had to take him to the emergency room for a tetanus shot.  When he came home he was hobbling quite a bit and took out his walker.

My stomach completely fell out of my body.  For a second I thought back to those years of wheelchairs and walkers and it was like a horrible flashback.  He managed to get where he was going and I put the walker away.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of the worst of the worst with hemophilia we can't see the "forest for the trees."  We forget that things will eventually get better.  But on the other hand when things are going so well for such a long time, we get complacent in our thinking and forget how bad things can get.

At least I have gotten better about not worrying about what might happen anymore.  We have to take each day and do the best we can.  And hopefully we'll have more days without hemophilia being the center of our lives.
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

World Hemophilia Day 2016

Just about every day, week or month can be associated with awareness.  World AIDS Day, International Blood Cancer Awareness Week, Dental Health Month….and of course there are the ones that are for fun like International Talk Like a Pirate Day and National Margarita Day. 

Today, April 17th is World Hemophilia Day.  It is a day set aside to spread awareness about bleeding disorders on an international level.  Maybe you know someone who has a child with hemophilia but have you ever considered that there may be a bleeding disorder in your family?  Asking questions is always a great place to start.  It may help you uncover some realities in your family that you had not considered.  I recently had an old friend reach out to me because she thought she may be having complications from a bleeding disorder.  It wasn't hemophilia or von Willebrand's disease, but she went in for treatment and started by asking me…her connection to bleeding disorders.

You may be that connection for someone else today.

The other thing that weighs heavily on my heart today on World Hemophilia Day, are the thousands of people around the world who are suffering from bleeds right now without access to clotting factor.  My sons have thousands of units of factor available in our home and others are suffering. 
  • Suffering in pain that will not have relief any time soon. 
  • Suffering because their mobility is challenged and the only way they can get from place to place is on an old set of crutches. 
  • Suffering because the cost of factor is beyond their wildest imagination.

Tonight I pray for those all over the world affected by bleeding disorders.  I pray for continued strength and peace so that they have a new day to start the fight all over again.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bleeding Disorder Awareness Month

March is BleedingDisorder Awareness Month.  It is a month when our community puts their best efforts forward to spread awareness about the disorders that our community live with every, single day.  Personally I don’t do anything different during the month of March except change my Facebook profile and cover photo.  I write and share my stories and struggles often and when I do I am making people aware that hemophilia is a chronic illness that brings a lot of struggles.  When your child is doing well, walking and using their limbs without problems, people don’t understand that they can still be in pain.  I think hemophilia is definitely an “invisibleillness.” 
My ten year old son, Caeleb, has significant joint damage in his right knee and right ankle.  If you watch him sit on the floor, you will notice that his leg doesn’t quite straighten all of the way out.  When he walks, he has a subtle limp that becomes more pronounced the faster he walks or runs.  And during the winter months, he aches.  He has pain that a ten year old should not have. He compensates and gets around very well, but I also wonder what kind of pain he has that is part of his normal.
If we go to a mall or a place that has a significant distance to walk, we will often use the handicapped placard to park.  Whenever I have the chance to cut down on some walking to alleviate achiness and soreness for Caeleb I will.  You should see the stares we get!  They are almost as bad as the stares we would get when he was in a wheelchair in the airport.  Once we arrived at the gate, Caeleb would get up from his wheelchair and walk in the waiting area.  Of course people thought, “There’s nothing wrong with him!”  I guess I should carry his MRI films with me to show them different. 
It’s no one’s business.
You just never know what someone is dealing with.  Everyone has a struggle that you know nothing about.  And often times an illness that can’t be “seen” causes individuals to need assistance that is not obvious.  We need to stop judging others and worry about ourselves.  When we do the right thing that’s all we need to worry about.
Easier said than done. 
I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for my sons or our family.  I want them to see that the disorder they struggle with is real. It is serious and I want people to know what hemophilia is so that they will be aware and pass information on to others.  We never know when a little piece of information can be lifesaving for someone else. 
I want people to see how strong and amazing my boys are as they live and thrive with hemophilia and inhibitors.  They could have easily given in and been scared to try new things, but they are both well adjusted and living with passion.  

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Small changes hoping for a big difference

Caeleb has had a zero inhibitor titer for 15 months, but his half-life is just over 4 hours.  It needs to be at least 6 hours to consider  him "tolerized."  He's doing great and we have to stay the course with big doses of Factor VIII.  As for his Xolair, the drug that changed our lives by allowing his body to tolerate Factor VIII, it's time to decrease his dose.  I'm actually not too nervous about the change, but a seemingly small change can turn into something big.

It's possible that the Xolair has done everything it needs to do for Caeleb's immune system and the only way to find out is to decrease the dose.  It would be fantastic if he did not have to have these injections any longer.  The drug mixes with 1.4 mls. of sterile water which is hardly anything, but the clear, reconstituted liquid is deceiving because it is so thick.  He gets an injection into each thigh and it used to be a horrible experience because it is so painful.  Now he takes a deep breath and plays his Nintendo DS.  He's such a warrior.

Time will tell.  Our first dose of 150 mgs instead of 300 mgs will be in two weeks.  I am praying that the right decisions are being made and that all goes well.

More to come :)

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Honeymoon is Over

It's been 14 months since my warrior has been in the hospital and it has sure been nice…almost like a honeymoon from hemophilia.  Sadly, the honeymoon is over.  Caeleb had a bad fall on the stairs Sunday evening that warranted a bleed dose of Novo Seven.  All was well as he rested and iced his leg. 

2 am comes and he wakes me up because he is itching.  I wish I remember what his skin looked like because I was pretty bleary eyed.  As he gets ready for school I thought all was okay because he wasn't complaining.  I called the HTC just to let them know about his fall and they wanted to see him.  It was a good thing because his hives were getting worse.  He was admitted and has been getting Benadryl and other meds around the clock.

Because he has an allergy history to factor VIII the doctor wanted to see if we could find out why he was breaking out.  At this point we have no definite answer.  It could be that the Novo Seven was a bad lot number.  Today we are drawing labs for a half-life study to see how all is going.

One thing I know how to do is "live in the hospital."  I could get us packed in a moment's notice to get to the hospital and handle the next bleed.  Coming back for this visit has been different.  We haven't had to deal with pain meds and a bleed and that has been great, but coming back into this environment has been really difficult.  I knew it would be a matter of time before we would get back on the hamster wheel, but I just wasn't ready. 

I have been knocked out of complacency and back into the reality and ugliness of hemophilia.   Caeleb's zero inhibitor titer has meant that our family routine has not had hemophilia as the main attraction.  Our lives have been our main attraction and it has been wonderful!  My heart just hurts being here.  All of the painful memories from our past visits have come flooding back.  It seems like a lifetime has passed.  Almost as if hemophilia was gone.

I loved the honeymoon.  It was a beautiful, much needed time away from hemophilia.  It's given me a greater appreciation for the times when all is well.  
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's a Mom to do?

When you have a young "adult," there are certain things you have to let go.  Prophy is one thing.  My 19 year old, Julian, believes prophy is not necessary since he always infuses when he feels something coming on.  I finally had to let that go and accept it.

He asked me to specifically buy him a leather Medic Alert cuff.  I did.  And where does it live, next to his computer.  This is one that I'm not letting go of.  I keep telling him (without too much judgment) that I worry about the other drivers on the road.  One wreck when he has no factor in his system....I don't even want to imagine.

Last Thursday he came home with both knees bothering him.  He said he was going upstairs to treat.  I went to check on him and he looked at me and said, "I don't have any factor."  I can't believe I didn't go ballistic.  Never mind that since December I was dropping hints to remind him that he needed to order before insurance changed.  And here he was without a drop.

We called his pharmacist and she stayed until 8 pm trying to get his factor through.  He got his bleed doses the next day.  I explained to him all of the steps that were involved to get his factor (with new insurance changes) and he actually teared up and said, "Tina is freaking awesome."

I don't think running out of factor will happen again because he saw that the worst case scenario was having to go to the emergency room.

Sometimes you have to let your kids made their own decisions and suffer the consequences.  Some may think I was pretty harsh because he could have had a major bleed.  It would have meant a trip to the emergency room, but this was one that he had to learn on his own.

What can we do for our teens and young adults?

1. They need to order their own factor.  Some pharmacists use email and texts if you child is busy at school.  Encourage them to take responsibility.

2.  They need to keep an insurance card with them.  Explain copays and deductibles.  You'll have to do it over and over, but our kids need to know about insurance now.  It's not like when we learned about insurance as adults or even when our clotting challenged kids came into the world.

3.  When they are at the doctor's office, they need to fill out their own forms.  Have them be responsible for filling out documentation.

4.  Make sure they know what product they take and their dosage (Amicar included).

5.  Do they know the difference between their homecare and pharmaceutical companies?

6.  Make sure they have the names and numbers for their HTC, homecare and nurses in their phones.

I am sure there are many other things, but these are some of the basics.

Transitioning is tough, but we need to help our kids be ready to take control of the health.

What other ideas do you have for transitioning?

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