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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back to the Hospital

I returned home from Africa last Sunday, and within 48 hours was in the hospital with Tommy. Seems like we had just visited, when Tommy worried he had a head bleed after a nasty fall on the ice in January. He called on Tuesday at 11:30 am, telling me he had called his hematologist for an appointment that day, at 2 pm in Boston. Boston! This means I had to drive over to Lowell to pick him up, then to Boston, then back to Lowell then back home. So I dropped everything, and took off to get him.

What's going on in his head, besides a potential bleed? It's not like Tommy to be so worried about his head... or any other part of his body. I recall when he was 17 he announced that he didn't think he had hemophilia anymore, therefore didn't need factor anymore. He actually refused to infuse himself for bleeds! He would limp around stoically. He would cradle a stiffened arm, denying pain and swelling. He was sure this was just mind over matter, not a hereditary blood disorder that has afflicted him from birth. Despite our threats, pleadings and teachings, he was certain he was right.

Then one day the pinky finger on his left hand wouldn't straighten. It was crooked. Not bleeding, it appeared Tommy was developing joint damage. You might downplay a left pinky, but this is a pretty important body part if you want to be a performing artist, especially on the guitar.

Why was it bent, he wondered aloud?

I congratulated him: all his denial was paying off, and he was developing a target joint in the worst place for a guitarist. He'd better start investigating careers in banking. That did it. After that, we never had to admonish him again for not infusing. He started infusing frequently and ordering his own factor.

So back to this past week. Tommy seems to have become very conservative in his bleeding diagnosis. After a CT scan, it turns out his week-long headaches were due to a sinus infection: cluster migraines, his hematologist told him. No bleed. Take two painkillers and call her in the morning.

We had a happy and long drive home. Part of me wanted to say, "Tommy, couldja just call me the night before so I can plan my day better?" But instead I praised him and hugged him for taking the very wise and grown up step of listening to his body, not his rational and sometimes hurried mind, and erring on the side of caution. Teen denial is common but scary; he made me proud and relieved to see him be proactive in his health care. I feel like we have come out the other side of the long tunnel of teenhood, and the view looks pretty good so far!

1 comment :

Dennis said...

Thanks for sharing this ongoing development experience. I'd also be curious to see Tommy's take on your comments.