Friday, 11 April 2014

God Gave Us a Little Boy, Twice

April has always been a time of year that has brought many big changes in our lives. 
Some changes wonderful, some the most painful times weʼve ever endured. Today 
marks the two year anniversary of one of the greatest days of our lives. This, however, 
was preceded by one of the greatest times of trial in our lives. It is a story to be told,
and will forever be etched on our hearts.

Caedmon is one of the kindest, generous, and most compassionate boys you'll ever meet.

After church on Easter 2012 in Missouri while the majority of the family took naps I
took Caedmon, then 5, out to fly his kite. While sitting on the bank of our pond I noticed
an awful bruise on his right knee. Black, blue, purple. It was horrible, yet he didnʼt recall
how heʼd gotten it or seem in pain from it. As I pointed it out later to Mark I realized both
Caedmonʼs knees were bruised quite traumatically. That evening we were appalled to
find similar bruising all over his body. Mark and I looked over Caedmon at each other
with an awful sense of dread in our eyes. It was then the numbness began.

Monday marked a holiday for the Dr.ʼs office and as Caedmon seemed normal as usual.
A dear friend, Linda, had a son who experienced similar issues while in his teens came 
over and was sweet to offer her story in great detail to help us figure out what direction to
take. We decided to call the Dr first thing Tuesday morning. Tuesday, April 10,
2012 was our sweet girl, Aberdeenʼs 1st birthday. While our amazing doctor, Dr. Wright,
was out on vacation we were able to get in to the clinic right away. We were rushing out
the door when Mark called me into Caedmonʼs room to his bed--there were spots of
blood on it.

A wonderful friend, Faye, was able to watch our 2 younger girls, Caithness and
Aberdeen on a spur of the moment when Mark decided to go to to the doctor with us. I
am so thankful for the decision he made to be with us.

After a strep test the nurse practitioner had us take Caedmon to the hospital lab
for tests. We were not to leave town until the results came back. We went to a local fast
food restaurant for lunch and Caedmon asked if he could have something to clean up
the mess. He had just received a finger-prick blood draw but the backseat of our car
looked like a massacre. Blood was everywhere--Caedmon wouldnʼt stop bleeding--from
a finger prick.

In the doctors office 20 minutes later we knew even more assuredly something
was terribly wrong. Our sweet nurse and friend, Christine, who helped deliver Caedmon
would not look us in the eye. Then Dr. Wright, who was on vacation, came in to give us
the news; Caedmonʼs blood had a platelet count of 1,000. A normal person should have
between 150,000 and 450,000 per microlitre of blood. Platelets are the small cell
fragments in blood that stick together and form clots (scabs) to stop bleeding. There
were also some other issues and what the lab reported to be blast cells appearing.
Because Dr. Wright was hesitant to say, I asked about “leukemia”--cancer of the
blood. My grandmother died of leukemia. He looked me in the eye and said, “Thereʼs a
big difference in a grandmother having leukemia and a 5 year old boy having leukemia.”

As our control began to slip and our panic began to rise I heard the doctor say
that Childrenʼs Hospital in St. Louis would be the best place for Caedmon as they are
more equipped to deal with this kind of thing. He told us he would allow us to take
Caedmon if we were very careful. Because as easily bruised on the outside he was as
much so internally. We left the office crushed and in tears and word had gotten around
because several stopped to pray with us then and there.

Markʼs parents had come for a first birthday party and took the girls while this
went on. We quickly went home to pack and put away birthday cake and party
preparations. Again, dear friends Nick and Faye stopped by, prayed with us and 
generously gave us money. They had a granddaughter who has spent much time at 
Childrenʼs for surgeries and they knew somewhat of what weʼd face. Having been 
through it many times their daughter, Sherry, was a source of encouragement and a 
great help to talk me through this time.

The 3 hour trip to St. Louis felt like 6. I spent a majority of the time on our phone,
begging friends and relatives to pray, posting our need on Facebook and crying. During
a pit stop Caedmon in a convenience store restroom looked at me and asked, “Am I
going to die?” I knew then and there I had to pull myself together.

My sister, Catlin, met us at the hospital in St. Louis and was a great help to me
as we had baby Aberdeen with us. Pray your children never have to see the inside of a
hospital, but if they do Childrenʼs is the most amazing place. Caedmon was covered in
stickers, had a balloon, stuffed animal and got to play on an iPad. He was x-rayed, IVʼd
and poked. He ordered himself a cheeseburger at 11 p.m. After being in an ER waiting
room for 4 hours. During that time a doctor came by at least 2 times an hour and a
nurse came by every 10 minutes.

The ER doctor came and told us Caedmonʼs initial labs came clear and while he
was severely lacking in platelets there were no blast cells evident. We then met Dr.
Fields, the hematologist (blood doctor). She came and told us she did not agree with the
previous diagnosis of no blast cells. But if this was indeed leukemia she had a plan to
treat it. Thus began our emotional roller coaster.

At 12:30 I took my sister and Aberdeen and headed to Kristi, my sister in law's house
45 minutes away leaving my precious firstborn with his daddy waiting to be moved to a
room. Sleep that night was restless at best. Mark texted me at 2:30 a.m. to tell me
Caedmon had been moved to a private room and was receiving an infusion of platelets.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Caithnessʼ 3rd birthday. My in-laws were so precious and
helped make the morning fun for Nessie. Markʼs sister, Kristi, dolled her up and helped
her have some normalcy to the day.That morning as I showered I knew what I needed 
to do. 

You see for so long I have given my possessions, my life, all that am to God. When I 
prayed I gave it all to Him, I trusted him almost completely. Almost. You see I kept a part 
of me to myself, the sacred, the untouchable. “Lord, take all I have...but please, please 
donʼt touch my children.” “Father, bless them, but theyʼre mine.” And you know what? 
I knew. I KNEW I was doing that in my heart of hearts. And I knew what I needed to 
do--what HAD to happen.

Right then and there I prayed
“Lord you know how much I love my children. You know how much I love Caedmon,
but as much as I love him, I know You love him more. So I am giving him to You, and
if You need him right now You may have him. But, Lord, if You do I will have to have You
uphold me, because I cannot bear it on my own.”
I still felt numb, but the dread that had hung over me was gone. I did what I had to do,
what Iʼd needed to do for the past 5 1/2 years since falling head over heels in love with
that perfect little 7lb. 10oz. boy. I gave him over to His Heavenly Father.

The day went by much the same as the previous evening in the hospital.
Caedmon was on the 8th floor--the hematology/oncology floor. We were surrounded by
desolation veiled by cheerful nurses, trikes in the hallways, and therapy dogs.
Caedmonʼs roommate, Ethan, a 16 year old St. Louis Cardinals lover, coming in for yet
another round of chemotherapy was quiet and kind (please pray for Ethan when you
read this). The nurses were skilled, animated, and fantastic with their patients.

That afternoon Caedmon received a round of immunoglobulin. The medicine to
hopefully stop his body from destroying his platelets. My parents and other sister flew in
from Houston, TX and 11 of us packed into one half of a hospital room and celebrated
Caithnessʼ birthday together handing out pink cupcakes to nurses and patients alike.
Dr. Fields, the hematologist, came in a few times that day always with hopeful news
then news that they arenʼt sure, another test needs to be run. By the end of the day we
all were exhausted from the emotional upheavals. A final test was run and as a
precautionary measure a bone biopsy was scheduled for the next day.

That night we all crammed together to stay in the hotel adjoining the hospital
sending Nessie to stay again with her Papa and LouLou at Aunt Kristiʼs house. My
parents stayed part of the night with Caedmon so Mark could sleep and we rotated
shifts so we could all be there again that morning.

Through the day on April 12 we were blessed by visitors. From a good friend of mine in
college who was a youth minister in the area, to friends from our previous church, to an
elder at Cabool and our dear friend and minister Bob Martin making the 3 hour drive to
pray with us. It touched us deeply, and I know Iʼll never view a simple hospital visitation
the same again. The outpouring of support and prayer on Facebook was overwhelming.
Often abused and used negatively this let us know we had prayer warriors on all sides
of the world petitioning the Father on Caedmonʼs behalf.

Right before lunch Dr. Fields came in and gave us the news Caedmon would not
need a biopsy he was diagnosed with ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) and
not leukemia. As Mark put it, “I have never in my life been more joyful to hear the news,
ʻYour son has a blood disorder.ʼ” We knew ITP, it is a household name with the
Andersons. I have been diagnosed with it 4 times, all pregnancy-induced. However,
mine had never been as severe as Caedmonʼs.

The next few weeks were still tentative; keeping Caedmon from being too active
(ha!), weekly blood draws, the financial blows of $90+ a lab. But through it all Godʼs
hand was on us. He provided a way for Caedmon to have the easier finger-prick draw,
the county health department was amazing to work with and did his draws for $5 and
friends in the church gave Caedmon a grab bag of goodies for every time he was stuck
with a needle. Every week his platelet count would climb higher and higher.

When the hospital bills came pouring in they totaled over $19,000 for doctors,
labs, pharmaceuticals and those 2 days in the hospital. We resigned ourselves to $25
payments for the rest of our lives when God yet again, intervened. I called to check on
the balance of a bill and was told we had a $-0- balance. Our bill had been paid in full.

Over and over Mark and I saw the hand of God intervene, provide for and
comfort us. God has a purpose. He has a plan. He loves us, He loves our children. I still
daily have to give my “sacred” to God. “Here is my family, my babies I have faith you will
do what is best--theyʼre yours.” Knowing full well that is my oath to Him, and I will follow
through however great the cost.

On May 24, 2012 Caedmon was declared “healed” at a follow up appointment
with Dr. Fields at Childrenʼs Hospital. Coming out of the hospital Mark looked over at
me, squeezed my hand and said with tears in his eyes, “God couldʼve taken better care

of Caedmon, but Heʼs let us have him back.”

Caedmon, now 7, is our precious boy and a true testament to God's mercy and grace.

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