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Hello everyone. Yesterday (February 13th) Landon was diagnosed with Leukemia, B-ALL.
Let me tell you the story of how this was discovered. It's somewhat of a long story, so please bear with me...
In January (2018), Tom was away for a week of training in Wichita. One night while he was away, I think it was either the 8th or 9th, I was making dinner, and asked the kids if they wanted a pop to drink that night! That's always exciting in our house since it's not a usual occurrence! Of course, they got excited and said yes, and I gave Landon the "big brother/big boy" responsibility to go downstairs to the basement fridge to grab a can of Coke for their dinner. He got extremely excited for that responsibility, took off running to go downstairs, had socks on, slipped and fell REALLY HARD on our hardwood floors. He hit so hard, I ran to him thinking he hit his head. He said no, he didn't hit his head, just his tailbone. Okay, he's crying so hard, I'm in mommy freakout moment thinking I'm going to have to take him to the ER, maybe he broke something! I was able to get him to stand up and walk over to me and then the couch, so in my mind "nothing's broken, no need to go to the ER." Put some ice on his back, and thought we'll just see how he is tomorrow.
The next few days he showed no signs of pain, to the point that I forgot all about his fall and didn't think to mention it to Tom when he returned home that weekend (roughly 3 days after his fall). He and Tom went golfing that weekend, and Tom said he noticed nothing wrong either. The only thing out of the sorts with his golf game is just walking to get to his ball instead of his usual run to it.
The next week he was still acting like his active 7-year-old boy self, no extreme complaints of pain, but he started making the comment, "my back is sore." Okay, maybe he's feeling some bruising from the fall, but since he's still acting and moving around (just not running) like his normal self, there were no real concerns. But one night I just wondered, maybe he's going through a growth spurt. So I googled about growing pains, and all I could find out is that they are usually found in the knees or other joints, not really mentioned in the back. Okay, the bruising will just go away.
However, at the beginning of the second week, I was watching him climb up the stairs of the school bus and noticed him going real slow up the big steps and kind of pulling himself up using the railing...it caught my attention. Told Tom I needed to calm my nerves and just have him checked out, but by who? He mentioned just taking him to the pediatrician to see what he says. So I did. I took him to the pediatrician that Wednesday, he felt around on Landon, made him do a few things to see if it caused pain...not much did...his spine looked aligned, and was able to do most of the things asked to do. Doc said it seemed to be deep muscle pain, just give him some ibuprofen a couple times a day, lots of water, put ice and then heat on the painful spots to reduce inflammation, and some stretches for the lower back, and we'd probably see a big difference within a week. But then he said, "if you don't see any change by Sunday, give me a call. We'll probably have to send y'all to orthopedics." Okay, will do, but probably won't have to, is what we thought.
That was on a Wednesday. We were doing all the exercises/stretches, giving him the recommended serving of ibuprofen, doing ice and heat, everything the doc told us to do, when he got up for school the next Monday (week three after fall) he was crawling down the large flight of stairs we have from the bedrooms to the living room. I got him to stand and walk to the living room, but he started crying in pain. Tom and I looked at each other and said he couldn't go to school if he can't walk! He called the pediatrician, since he said to if we didn't see any improvement by Sunday...we didn't, it seemed a LOT worse.
The Pediatrician said that since he'd probably just tell us to go to orthopedics after we got there, why don't we just go there instead of stopping by his office. Tom took him to the Pediatrics Orthopedics nearby, this was on the 29th of January. They did x-rays, didn't really see any fractures or anything wrong with his spine, so they too said it was deep tissue pain, and said to do 6-12 sessions of Physical Therapy and he'll be back to normal pretty quickly. So, we got PT all set up...great thing was it was right up the street from us! Y'all don't know how exciting it is when, here in Atlanta, a place only takes you five minutes to get to it!!! Rare occasion!
We started going to see our Physical Therapist Jacob the next afternoon. Landon had a good visit and I could tell he and Jacob worked well together. It was one of those instances though that kind of made it seem like, "why are we there" since he was pretty much able to do most of the exercises. So I told Jacob that I thought it'd be best for us to bring him in first thing in the morning, because that's when we've noticed him in the most pain and the most immobile. We felt it was from stiff muscles from no movement overnight. So, we brought him in first thing that Friday morning, and Jacob noticed the same issues we were seeing.
Mornings were the worst. He'd wake up from sleeping and he'd complain about pain, he'd try and walk to go to the bathroom and sometimes he'd move a certain way and would scream in pain and fall to the ground shaking. To me it looked like maybe he had a pinched nerve. It looked very similar to the pinched nerve pain I had once a couple years ago, where you slightly change direction and it gives you KILLER pain!!!
So now halfway into week 4 from the fall, the first week of February (last week), we'd had 3 sessions of PT by then, not really seeing much progress. One night Tom and I were wondering if we were just being impatient, but let's try one last person to see if they can see or feel something that the others hadn't, we set him up with a chiropractor appointment the next day. What's cool about this chiropractic office is they had a massage therapist, and since they were all saying deep tissue pain, maybe she could get some knots out! So he got a massage! The chiropractor evaluated him, said he's pretty well aligned, had a few pops and cracking noises, but wanted to see the x-rays first before doing anything else.
The chiropractic visit was last Thursday, had our fourth PT visit Friday morning, got through the weekend okay, and then we get to this Monday (Feb. 12th). Tom's on a trip to Mexico. Monday morning I wake Landon up to get ready for school, he can hardly sit up, he tries to put one foot on the floor to get up to go into the bathroom and he screams in pain! He's crying so much and I could tell he REALLY needed to go to the bathroom so I pick him up and set him on the pot, with more screams of pain. I pick him up off the toilet, and ended up carrying him down the stairs to the living room, instead of doing our usual walking up and down the hallway to loosen up the muscles. As a mother, you can usually tell the differences between each form of crying...pain, anger, hurt feelings, etc....this was, to my mommy ears, the worst pain he's felt in the last month or maybe in his whole 7 years of life!
It was getting to be almost time for the bus to stop by, but he wasn't dressed yet, and he had hardly any appetite for donuts! So I FaceTimed Tom, and he too could tell he was unable to move and was in extreme pain. He called the orthopedics we had previously visited, got directed to a different office and doctor, in request to get an MRI. There has to be something there that the x-rays couldn't see.
So, I got him in the car and took him to the Pediatrics Orthopedics office, got in and they did more x-rays. Hmmm, I wondered what good that would do, we've already had x-rays! We waited to see doc to hear what he saw, the doc came in and said he was ordering an MRI and will be able to do it in a half hour or so. Okay, great! That's what we wanted! This place was awesome! Geared directly towards kids, got him all set and ready to do the MRI, he was one of the most co-opperative 7-year-old they've ever had in the MRI...that's what they said...and then we just waited to hear what they'd see!
So, we waited maybe about 30 minutes after having the MRI, when the nurses and Child Life Coach came by and told me, "the doctor would like to meet with you down the hall." The minute they said that, made me realize the doc had something bad to tell me. We sat down, and he started off by saying he wasn't going to beat around the bush. Then he goes on to tell me they saw quite a few changes in his bones in their x-ray as compared to the first x-rays done on Jan. 29th. Seeing these changes in such a short period of time of two weeks is what prompted the need for the MRI. Then he goes on to tell me that the MRI showed a compression fracture in his lower back and some abnormalities in his bone marrow, which is an indicator of Leukemia.
He went on to do more explaining and then insisted to transport us over to Egleston, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). We got to ride the ambulance over to CHOA, admitted us to ER, where then all the testing and waiting began. We moved to Gen. Ped. level that night and thankfully Tom's work flew him home allowing us to fight through this and learn the next steps together. Then Tuesday morning an oncologist doctor came and met with us, and gave the diagnosis of Leukemia, B-ALL. And from then on we've gotten info on the treatment options and what we now need to endure for maybe the next two years.