Tuesday, August 28, 2012
What's wrong with my boy?
To tell you how we arrived with the diagnosis of Leukemia, it is necessary to describe our summer of 2012. You have to understand that Austin is never sick. I can count on my hand the number of times we have been to the Pediatrician other than well-child checkups. He rarely even gets a cold. At the end of May, Austin was complaining of chest pain after catching a kickball at school. He made such a fuss that we took him in for a chest xray. We were told it was probably a pulled muscle. Then on June 6th, Austin fell while wrestling with his 2 year old brother. He complained of severe left wrist pain and an xray showed a buckle fracture for which he was given a splint to wear for 3 weeks.
Austin really didn't let the wrist slow him down. We went fishing and to the Grand Canyon. I do recall he complained about hiking and said he was tired, but I assumed he was just being lazy. Also at this time Austin developed a severe ear infection requiring 10 days of Amoxicillin.
He got his splint off just in time to go kayaking with his brother, Logan.
On the 15th of July Austin started to say that his chin was numb. A numb chin? I didn't think much of it, sure it would go away. Finally on the 17th when he was still saying it was numb, I foolishly googled "numb chin" and scared myself silly with words like "diabetes", "tumor", "leukemia", and "tooth abscess". I figured the tooth sounded the best-- so off we went to the dentist where sure enough, Austin was missing an adult tooth on one side. The other teeth were crowding out the stuck baby tooth, creating an abscess. So the offensive baby tooth was pulled and a 2 week round of antibiotics was started. The numb chin went away.
On the 24th of July Austin fell off a scooter and complained that his leg hurt. He limped for couple days without the pain going away so we went back for xray, again being told it was muscle strain.
On August 13, Austin started 3rd grade. He is an excellent student. He is a pro at math, reads two grade levels ahead, and loves science. He will tell you his favorite class is PE. He doesn't love homework, but what 8 year old boy does? He would rather be out playing soccer or baseball. It was about this time that I noticed that Austin wasn't eating much. His clothes were looser and he would bring his lunchbox home still full of lunch. He would refuse to eat dinner at all or take a few bites and then go lay on the couch. On August 18th, we went to Salt Lake for family pictures. Austin seemed fine running around with cousins and eating ice cream. The next morning he complained of pain in his right wrist with no apparent cause of injury. This time we went to the Pediatrician's office and the PA examined him. More xray's were taken, but again the diagnosis was just muscle strain. They put a splint on the wrist and sent him home.
On Sunday, August 26, Austin started saying his left wrist was hurting again and he wanted to wear his old splint. He didn't want to eat any dinner but stayed on the couch the whole evening and didn't play with the other kids. Monday morning he went to school but after school lay on the couch, not wanting to play or eat. Once again, I found his full lunchbox in his backpack. When I asked him why he didn't want to eat his lunch he just shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't feel like it.
Tuesday Aug 27, we again went to the Pediatrician's office where I was ready to do battle to get something done about all this. This was not my healthy, happy boy. He was pale and tired, grumpy and not eating. I wanted to know what was going on!!! I don't necessarily think that all of the things that happened to Austin over the summer relate, but the whole picture is suspicious of something very wrong. Our Pediatrician, who I love, was stumped as to what the problem was. Austin didn't fit any classic symptoms of anything. I wanted to do some blood work to rule out all the scary things that were rumbling around in my head. The word "Leukemia" kept coming again and again to my mind but I really hoped I was wrong and even the word "lupus" that our doctor suggested sounded ok compared to what I was thinking. In hindsight, I just knew deep down it was going to be bad. Our doctor didn't think we would find anything, but agreed to do the blood work to reassure me that all was well. We had the blood drawn and went home to wait for the results. At about 5:30 our doctor called with the bad news. He was shocked at the results. Austin's red blood cells were low, his white blood cells were high, his neutrophil count very low. We were told we needed to head to Primary Children's that night so we could be at the Hematology/Oncology clinic at 9 am the next morning. How do you pack for a trip like this? Would we be gone a week or a month? I just threw things in bags, including a bag of dirty clothes and food that I thought might spoil if we were gone long. A friend came over and helped Kevin give Austin a blessing. We then packed up the kids and the dogs and headed to Grandma's house in Orem arriving at 1:30 am. A lot of tears were shed on that drive. A small part of me hoped that when we got to the clinic we would be told there was a mix up or "he was sick yesterday but look! He is fine now!" Deep down I knew that wasn't going to be the case.