Monday 7 October 2013

Watching the CBC

Time is either flying or standing still this week for Dominic.
With his first birthday coming up on Saturday, it’s hard to believe that 365 days since Oct. 12, 2012 will have gone by.
His birthday will mark exactly a month since we went to the emergency room at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. That seems like just yesterday too.
With the news we received today, it’s hard to know when or if his life will return to a sense of normalcy.
We’re told that due to his blood counts, there’s almost no chance he’ll be released from the hospital before the second round of chemotherapy begins to tackle his leukemia.
Yes, it’s time for another biology lesson.
The Complete Blood Count measures the types of cells your bone marrow is producing. White blood cells fight infections, hemoglobin (found in red blood cells) carries oxygen throughout your body and platelets help stop bleeding by forming clots. We’re also interested in a specific type of white blood cell called neutrophils which are the primary defence against infections.
Since chemotherapy drugs kill off just about everything, Dom’s levels have been remarkably low. His white blood cell count has been as high as 3.4 (million per cubic millimeter) and as low as zero, but a normal person’s level would be closer to seven. Neutrophils have been zero (they’re usually half the white cell count). Hemoglobin has ranged from 80 to 90 or so (compared to a healthy three-digit number). And platelets have dipped as low as 11 (they ought to be eight times that).
Whenever hemoglobin or platelet counts dip too low, he gets a blood transfusion. So if you gave blood recently, thank you and if you want to do something to help kids with cancer, that’s a good start.
Today was a bad day, as he needed both types of transfusions. We’re in a holding cycle until his body can start producing the cells on its own. Once the numbers get high enough, we can start the next round of treatment.
We could be here a while.
In some sense it’s good news. Unpacking the hospital room is a lot of work and setting him up at Trish’s parents house in Calgary or ours in Medicine Hat would bring about a whole new set of stressors. If we want the best care we’re already in the right place.
But the sense of foreboding it brings with it is tough to ignore. Remember the six-month timeline? That was presuming no delays.
Fortunately Dom is otherwise doing well. He got out of the hospital last week for a couple trips and is generally happy and closing in on walking. He loves the music therapy at the hospital and was banging on drums this morning.
He continues to get more and more attention and love, which we feel blessed by every day. My employer, the Medicine Hat News, has a story on him ( My best friend Trevor created Krista from our slow pitch team is organizing a fundraiser where a bunch of us will play games for 25 hours — you can join our team or sponsor us for the cause (the Alberta Children’s Hospital) at
Upon reading the News story one person approached me while I was working yesterday. She handed me $50 and said it was for gas money. I gave the stock “thanks so much” answer. It never feels like enough but I don’t know how else to respond. It’s all so overwhelming at the end of the day though.
Tomorrow’s another day. We push ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Sean and Trish, one day at a time is a good mantra. You are in the best place you can be and Dom is getting the best care he can get. A reminder to let others take care of you, too. This is a long haul that will be full of very exciting days, and days you wished you never would have. Keep finding the joy everyday. Know that you have support from many people and the power behind the collective positive wishes coming your way is amazing!