Monday, November 16, 2009

Black and Blue

I learned something today.

Dads who have sons in treatment for Leukemia with poor blood clotting qualities, should not sword-fight, karate chop, wrestle, or allow any other kind of roughhousing the night before a doctor's appointment...even if their son begs for another round or duel.

They should put these things on the instruction manual or something. Somebody should have said something.

Fresh tests today showed Von's platelet counts are really low. Platelets are the blood cells that help your blood clot. You can tell they are low when you get bruises all over your body after a minor blow from a Nerf sword.

A healthy platelet count is 150 to 450. Von's are down to 31 and at 30 they do a mandatory blood transfusion.

So after a few rounds of wrestling and running karate moves and a punch or two to the face last night, Von is looking pretty colorful today.

And yet he still runs around the house and wants to wrestle. Even as I type, he wields a sword and taunts me to an engagement.

Tonight, he has dropped his pants with pride and is showing his sisters all of his many shaped and sized bruises. To each one, the girls respond with a 'ewwww' and gasping air through their teeth in amazement. He loves it!

It looks like we will have to teach this kid how to knit or something.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's all in the eyes

Von is home from the hospital.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

He will go in on Monday for some more tests to make sure he is progressing properly, and if so, will get back on the normal chemo and steroids.

When they draw spinal fluid, they don't put him under for safety reasons. We've learned a trick after doing this a few times that has made all the difference in Von's ability to navigate the procedure.

The trick? Eye contact.

I used to sit in a chair or at the foot of his bed and talk during the procedure to let him know we were there for him. He would grunt, and writhe in paint through the laughing gas mask.

Now, using the eye contact trick, I get right near his face, look him deep in the eyes and I talk to him. I tell him stories of my childhood which he asks for every time. I tell him about my pet monkey, trips to the jungle as a missionary kid, and even though the mask covers his face, his narrowed eyes betray a huge smile anytime I tell about the events that lead to a spanking from Opa.

It amazes me with God-quality goosebumps...something as simple as Von being able to look into my eyes helps him gather strength. He quits squirming, grunting and stiffening, and just relaxes.

Think about that...eye contact, not just the passing glance but a deep draw of acceptance, understanding, compassion, affirmation, and care.

It sounds silly, but if you've ever experienced it, you know what I'm talking about.

I'd love to hear about your eye contact story.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You, O-Positive

O-Positive blood donors, I am eternally grateful!

You have saved a little boy's life.

In the old days, before blood transfusions, today would have been the last day.

I never fully appreciated the blood mobile people or the power of donating blood until today. I've donated blood in the past for the free snacks they gave afterwards. And besides, I didn't want my co-workers thinking I was soft and afraid of needles.

But today, seeing a donor's blood trickle into Von's body, and knowing that would save his life, gave me a deep reverence and appreciation for everyone who makes that possible.

O-Positives, thank you!

The hospital has some very tight limitations on who they allow to visit. Evidently, pirates who ride in on motorcycles, wielding Nerf swords, and speak with an Amish-Piratey accent are on the 'May Visit' list.

If you want to pray specifically for Von, his liver is in distress. We need some good news tomorrow morning when they do tests again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Bravest Kid I know

Meet the bravest kid on the face of the earth. His name is Von. I think I shall call him "Von, the Brave".

This week has been a rough one for him. He has had fever for nine days and has been to the emergency room twice in the past week and today was admitted to the hospital because he has the H1N1 flu. His infection fighting cells are at an all time low, and he may need a blood transfusion in the morning. Although his body is still not certain of how to fight sickness in the way it should, his spirit and smile are strong and lasting.

Even though the photo looks like he undergoing some Nazi scientific experiments, underneath his mask there is a smile that says, "Hey everyone, relax, it will all turn out just fine."

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Von the Brave!