I have shared with you the story of how our family has dealt with the medical problems of Ian, and the continuing challenges with Alex. Today, I will begin a series of posts on the experiences we went through with my oldest son, Adam.
One bright, sunny Saturday morning, Adam woke with a fever and was ill and fussy. He was almost 3 at the time. I gave him some Tylenol, because I had a busy day planned. At 11:00, I was giving a luncheon for a girl who was getting married. It was to be held at a restaurant nearby. Mom was going to keep Adam while I was there, so I knew if he did not feel well, he would be fine with her.
I got ready to go, and dressed him. He was saying his stomach hurt now, so I gave him a little Donnatal. He had been having quite a bit of stomach trouble lately and we had found out he was low in potassium and wasn’t digesting sugars correctly. The doctors had put him on a fairly strict diet, cutting out all sugars and fruits. He stayed on it very well….except for one incidence. We had gone to the grocery store, and I turned around and I couldn’t find him. I began calling him and searching. Finally I saw his shoes under a table full of fruit. I pulled him out of there, and noticed a banana peel lying on the floor where he had been. “Adam, did you eat that banana?”, I asked. “Yes, Mam, but see, I just HAD to eat it…I just HAD to”, he answered. We had the talk about stealing, and not following his diet, and went on with our shopping. I forgot all about till later in the year.
Anyway, I took him over to Mom’s. He was still whining and saying he did not feel good. Now, I was not a worrier. I was a nurse, and I knew that tummy aches would come and go often. I didn’t see the need to take him in for a Dr. visit for every little thing. So, my plan was to ride this out. However, Mom began to encourage me to call the doctor. I can remember her saying that it was the weekend and if he got worse we could not see a Dr. until Monday. I did call, and surprisingly, they said to come on in right then. That NEVER happened! I almost didn’t go, and planned to send Mom, because of the luncheon. However, I ended up taking him, and didn’t even have to sit in the waiting room. Strange. This was usually a very busy practice, with hordes of snotty-nosed, whining children filling both waiting rooms. We went into the exam room and Dr. Williams came in. Adam always liked him. He checked his throat, and his ears and said yes, he had an ear infection and needed some antibiotics. Then Adam piped up and said, “my tummy hurts.” So the doctor laid him back on the table and began to feel around on his tummy….he then tore off his diaper, and felt some more. I could see he wasn’t liking what he felt. “Tonja,” he said,”Feel right here and tell me what you think.” So, I did, and I was not pleased either. “Please tell me that what I feel is an enlarged spleen,” I said. “That’s what I hope it is”, he said,”But, I’m just not so sure.” Well, friends, that’s when the world slows down and the blood drains out of you, and you are small and defenseless in a big world full of bad things. They are headed toward you and no matter how you try, you know you will not be able to get out of the way. “I want you to go straight to the hospital…right now, I’ll meet you there.” It was 10:15…luncheon was at 11:00. “I can’t”, I said, I’m giving a luncheon in 45 minutes. It will be at least 1:00 before I can get there.” He was not happy about that, but understood…and agreed.
I left quickly, and took him back to Mom’s. I sent her to my house to get pajamas and diapers and such for him to have ready when I got back. And, some how I went and made nice at a luncheon for 15 girls. I stopped by and told Don what was going on, picked up Adam, and headed to the hospital. We checked in and they were ready for us. They immediately started him on a 24 hour urine collection, and sent us off to ultrasound…blood work…x-rays…the works. By the time the doctor came in to see us about 6:30….he knew what it was not…an enlarged spleen. And, he knew what it was….a tumor. Not sure what kind yet, but the urine test would let him know more. A tumor…in my little boy? Surely, something is not right. Surely, there is some mistake. A little boy can not have cancer…it is just not right. There was much company there supporting us, but they all left and went home and it was just Adam and I. He went to sleep and I was just sitting. In came the doctor. He said that he wanted to explain things to me a little better. He did, and when he left I knew that Adam had cancer and probably a very fast growing, deadly form. He said that as soon as we finished the urine test the next day, we would go to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. And that they would probably operate right away.
He left. And, I sat and let it all sink in. My baby had cancer….and may not live…in spite of all the pain and suffering he was about to be put through. And just that morning, I thought he had a case of the sniffles.
It is this kind of moment that stops your world. Oh, it keeps spinning for everyone else…but not for you. This was the moment my life changed and everything I had ever planned and dreamed of faded away, and everything was concentrated on this one little boy. That was all that mattered…that was all the world was about anymore.
And, he was sleeping peacefully….that innocent, sweet sleep of children…dreaming sweet dreams of playing and running and having fun. Just like little boys should.