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Danny woke up on June 27th, 2012 with a strong pain in his lower right abdomen … strong enough that he was taken straight to the ER. At first, we thought it was appendicitis (not the case). Blood tests showed elevated white cell counts and low platelets; subsequent tests had his primary physician talking to pediatric oncologists in Columbia Presbyterian in NYC. Less than 12 hours after he said his side hurt, we were checking into the Columbia Children's hospital.
The diagnosis is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This was caught relatively early, and the prognosis - assuming no curveballs from genetic factors or infections - is excellent (survival rate of 90%). These are among the best doctors in the world, and my son is a fighter. He’s strong, brave, and worthy of his name. I’ve never been prouder.
The chemotherapy has been intense; over the past 9 months, Danny has been hospitalized 6 times, almost died three times, experienced blood clots in his heart and lungs, and undergone four major surgeries to save his leg after an infection. The entire program extends for 26 months.
Danny’s back in the ICU with a nasty case of septic shock (doctor speak for “infection”). I brought him into the ER yesterday afternoon with a fever of 102 and very low blood pressure (76/24). After a delightful (and critical) evening in the ICU full of blackouts and barfing (and not the fun college kind of blackouts and barfing), he’s finally stabilized. We’ve had to introduce a little heparin to his system as part of an arterial access port (wrong term, but bear with me; I haven’t slept much lately). Heparin, if you’ll recall, was one of the cast of players in Danny’s leg-threatening infection back in March. Necessary for what they needed to do, but unnerving nonetheless. So far, so good.
His current drug regimen includes three broad-spectrum antibiotics, dopamine and norepinephrine for low blood pressure, morphine for pain, and the usual litany of cancer drugs because, you know, he still has cancer. Also – he’s not allowed to eat (again). Assuming he continues on this current recovery trend, we should be out of the ICU in 48-72 hours, then out of the hospital a week or so after that. While not as ugly as some of his hospitalizations have been, it’s still been a rough time. The medical consensus is that he’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s “trending positive”.
Keep the prayers coming.