Saturday, September 21, 2013

You are SERIOUSLY not going to believe this.

It has been two years since I posted. Much has happened. But here is the important thing that you need to know right now: Adi, my beautiful son, has leukemia. My son has cancer. And yet -- just as when he was born -- the world continues to turn on its axis. People continue their lives. They laugh, and love, and my son is sick.

Two years ago, we moved to Israel, and the move was difficult. I say that, and you may think, "Oh, difficult. I know what that is like." But really, you have no idea. One of my children was distraught enough to stand in my kitchen hurling drinking glasses out the window. Four of my five children have seen psychologists and/or psychiatrists. My husband was spending two weeks abroad for every one week in Israel. I was crawling into bed at 4 pm, sobbing myself to sleep.

But slowly, slowly, things started to get better. My children adjusted. We bought a new home and eagerly awaited our move -- the house was under construction when we bought it. My husband began traveling less and staying home more. We found an amazing school for Adi. He was even invited to a birthday party.

Slowly, slowly, I started to feel good. My husband and I planned a trip to China -- the benefits of all those airline and hotel miles. We arranged with my mother-in-law to watch our kids for a week in late December. My parents booked a trip to come visit us at Chanuka. My friends arrived right after Rosh HaShana to visit -- a visit I'd been looking forward to for almost 8 months.

Last Sunday, September 8, Guy noticed a terrible bruise on Adi's arm. "What happened?" he asked, horrified.

"Amit bit me," said Adi.

Amit is four. Adi is almost 10, but he is the size of a hefty 14-year-old. We questioned Amit, who burst into tears, but it didn't make sense to us that he could have hurt Adi that badly. We sent in a note to Adi's teacher and asked her if she knew anything. The next day, Adi returned home with another bruise. I questioned him extensively, to no avail. His answers ranged from "The police did it," to "I don't know," to "I don't have a boo-boo."

Monday night was parent-teacher night, and Adi's teacher pulled me aside. "Have you spoken to the bus driver?" she asked. "That's the only person I can think of. Or maybe another student on the bus?"

We checked in with the bus driver on Tuesday, who is perfectly nice. All the children are smaller than Adi, they all have special needs, and Adi sits up front.

On Wednesday, there was a new bruise, just as angry as the others. "Maybe he has a vitamin deficiency and he's bruising easily because of that," I said, and Guy shrugged. "Maybe." So we decided to take him to see the doctor and get some bloodwork done. Guy and our friend Dudi took Adi in to see the doctor Wednesday evening, and got paperwork for bloodwork. Thursday morning, Guy took Adi to have blood drawn.

Thursday afternoon, the doctor's office called me. I had an unrelated appointment for myself for that evening. "You're coming in, right?" asked the secretary. "Actually, I don't think I am," I said. I was tired, it had been a long day, and my dad had already talked to me about my own medical issue. "No, come in," said the secretary. "And bring Guy."

"They think we hit our kid," I said to Guy. "They want to question us."

We took Adi -- Guy wanted the doctor to see him again -- and went. I noted that there was no police car outside. Instead, while Guy was in the bathroom with Adi, the doctor told me that the bloodwork was "very bad," and that we needed to go to the ER. They were waiting for us there, he said. The doctor who saw Adi the day before -- who happens to be a hemo-oncologist -- has already spoken to them. "You're going to be admitted," he said, "and I don't think you'll be discharged anytime soon."

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. You need to go there. They need to do some tests. But you're going to be admitted, and you're going to be there for a while."

I called Dudi's wife, Shirlee, my best friend, and I started talking, over the rushing of water all around me. "I need you to go to my house and get my kids. Something is wrong with Adi. Adi is sick," I said, and I could hear my own voice from far away. "We have to go to the hospital. We have to stay there. Something is wrong with Adi. My kids--"

"Okay." said Shirlee. "I will take care of your kids. Don't worry." We went to the house to get sweatshirts, Adi's blanket and pillow, and an iPad to keep him busy. Shirlee was already there, organizing the rest of my children, rounding them up, swinging into action.

We got back in the car with Adi, and I looked at the referral they had handed me. I called my parents and told them what I knew, which at that point, was very little. "I think they think he has leukemia," I said, and again, the words were so far away, and foreign.

At the emergency room, the staff put us in a room almost immediately. Several doctors and nurses came in to talk to us. "We're going to need to draw some blood," they explained, and added that they would give Adi something to calm him down. "Can I have some?" I asked, and they said yes of course, which startled me. They offered me tea and coffee, which terrified me, and a few minutes later when they asked me if I was pregnant and then offered me a pill, I didn't even ask what it was. I just took it.

We were there for hours. The bloodwork confirmed what they already knew -- his white blood cell count was 106,000 -- far too high. His platelets were terribly low. "This isn't good," they told us, "but it could be a strange infection."

By the early morning hours, we had been admitted to an inpatient ward on the 6th floor and scheduled for a bone marrow biopsy. When the results of that came back -- Friday afternoon, September 13, Evev Yom Kippur, another doctor sat us down and said, "Now we can say leukemia."

And the water rushed all around me and sucked all the air out of the room.

23 comments:

Jack said...

I'd kept this blog in my rss feeds because... well, sometimes people stop blogging but they start up again later, and here we are now. I can't imagine how hard it was when you moved; I'm glad things got better. But now...

I again can't imagine how terrible this is for you and your family. I'm not a parent, so I don't even have that bit of shared experience and imagined in-your-place worry.

If you choose to write more here -- about this, about anything -- I'll be a reading and caring stranger halfway across the world. If you don't write more, I'll still be caring and hoping.

Abbi Perets said...

Thanks, Jack -- I do plan to write about this, as I think it will keep me sane. And it's always nice to know that people out there are caring and hoping.

moplans said...

Oh Abbi, I am so sorry

Mara said...

I'm glad you're blogging again because I love to read anything you write. But I loathe this.

CJ of NJ said...

If there is anything the Freericks family can do for you from here in the USA, please don't hesitate to ask. Adi, Guy, you, and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers. We are living in a time with the best medicine the world has ever known! May they fix this.

Alli (from wyo) said...

Abbie, I'm praying for you and your dear family.

Ellen Seidman said...

Abbi, I felt sick reading this. I hope Adi is doing OK with the diagnosis. I used to volunteer at Sloan Kettering; mostly, the kids were kids, not too downtrodden about what they were going through. It was hardest of all for the parents. I know that Israel has very strong cancer care, so if this HAD to happen, you are at least in a good place for it. Hugs. And like CJ said, if there is ANYTHING at all, anything anything anything, I can do for you, just say the word. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Praying healing
from TN

Chrisa Hickey said...

Strong thoughts and streams of light coming your way.

Janis said...

Oh Abbi -- I'm so so very sorry to read this news. You are in my prayers. - Janis (sneak peek at me)

Helena said...

Light and strength to your family--you'll get through this.

Candice said...

So sorry to read this about your little guy!! :( I will definitely say a prayer for him and all of you!!

Dawn said...

I'm so sorry for your family's devastating diagnosis. Prayers and positive thoughts are coming your way....

Jen said...

I train and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. Every mile, every dollar, is one step closer to better treatments and cures for blood cancer. This week, all my steps will be in honor of your son and family. Sending you positive thoughts from a stranger in Boston.

Anonymous said...

just wanted to say that you and your family are in our prayers. for peace, for healing, for all the details of daily life for the rest of the family. wishing you strength during this time and more joy than you can imagine in the days ahead.

Anonymous said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Prayers for you and your family from Cape Cod.

Abbi Perets said...

I want to thank all of you for your comments. They mean so much.

Crystal T. said...

This reminds me so much of when my son was diagnosed. Complete horror story and a lot of similarities with all the tests and the doctors afraid to say anything before they knew for certain. I wish that no parent had to go through this.

Michael McDaniel said...

Got here via Lex. We are sending you positive energy from Seattle.

Michael McDaniel said...

Got here via Lex. We are sending you positive energy from Seattle.

Mamacita said...

Wow- I cannot believe what I'm reading! It's been a long time since you've posted- and I've missed your posts. I am sorry for what you are going through, I cannot even imagine...praying for you and your family from the US.....

Rachel said...

My son has sotos, severe scoliosis and was diagnosed with Stage IV high risk neuroblastoma almost two years ago. I feel your pain. It's a lot and it sucks. Many blessings...