Faring Poorly

We’ve all had that rush of adrenaline when a car on the highway get misaligned and a collision looks inevitable, at least for a moment. It doesn’t happen, though, and we drive away shaken with the knowledge of what could have so easily been. No reason it shouldn’t be me this time.

Last night a doctor said that Alden was showing red flags for some very serious diseases. The word “leukemia” came out. That’s where I’ve been for the last three weeks. A busy, pleasant Christmas led right into a gastrointestinal storm that has had our 33-pound Alden laid low for weeks. He gets better; he gets worse. We spent the night in the hospital. He improved with a solid 24 hours of IV fluids. We went home and about our lives, until a few days later when he was as sick as he’s yet been. I’m writing this from the little sleeper couch in his hospital room.

I feel like I’m behind the wheel of that car. Multiple invasive tests today allayed the doctor’s concerns around cancer, around Crohn’s Disease and other chronic intestinal horrors. But between this night and last night all we had was an endless stretch of that oncoming car. I rattled back and forth between a disassociative blankness where I stared at the murmuring television on the wall and breathless panic where I crouched over Alden and imagined his silky hair falling out, imagined losing him. I wondered grotesque things like whether we would let Elliot wear Alden’s clothes. I ground my teeth in frustration with myself for going to such horrible places in my head. Sufficient unto the day was the evil thereof.

We’re still dizzy with the adrenaline release of hearing that the MRI, endoscopy and colonoscopy all showed a healthy digestive system. The doctor is betting on a crazybad infection that he hasn’t been able to clear. Some things still fail to add up.

His white blood cell count was 30,000 (very high) when we brought him to the ER on Monday morning. No fever. 24 hours in IV cipro and flagyl knocked it all the way down to 11,000 (almost normal). Apparently this count and absence of fever is a possible leukemia indicator. Our nurse tonight expressed her skepticism that the antibiotics could have such a dramatic effect so fast, but had no other theories to offer.

Whether viral or bacterial, he’s been extravagently sick for almost three weeks. No one else in the house has been affected despite lots of exposure.

All the cultures, and there have been many, have come back negative.

Paging Dr. House, please. Except, you know, for how all his patients’ skin falls off or their eyes fall out or they spontaneously combust. Please let us always be too boring for a genius diagnostician.

Alden has been so, so brave. He has tried to cooperate even though he does not remotely understand what’s happening. He went without food or water for 36 hours as part of his testing prep. He cried and begged everyone he saw to please get him something to eat. He screamed for me to protect him and make them stop when they put the nasogastric tube in. This morning he was so defeated he went mute, refusing to respond to anyone for hours, tears standing in his eyes.

Alden will spring back, I know. Now that the hardest parts of this visit are behind us his personality is peeking out again already. I’m expecting them to send us home tomorrow and he’s going to perk right on up once we’re out of here. We’re going to put this right on behind us, as we should, but this is me making a mark in this time that Alden truly suffered and we were so frightened of what can so easily be taken away. A quick walk down these hallways reminds me that there’s no reason it couldn’t be us.





3 responses to this post.

  1. I am wishing and hoping and praying for the best. If any of you need anything at all, please let me know. I will come.


  2. Posted by Jeannie on January 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

    God, how terrifying and heartbreaking for you. So glad that all the worst things have been ruled out, and hope you get to take him home soon.


  3. Sending light and love to you and your family.


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