Symptoms and diagnosis – and ‘the look’
For a few months, Ace had been getting colds, nose bleeds and complaining of noises in his ears. He had been having bad mood swings and we just thought that it was the terrible twos, but a year late. Every time we took him to our GP, all we got was ‘it’s that time of year’ or ‘it’s viral’, or the best one was ‘it’s a urine infection’.
One day, Ace was being a real little terror and I poked him gently in the chest and told him to behave. That night, he had a large bruise on his chest. The next day, the bruise still there, but bigger and more purple. Two days later, he turned white as a ghost – he was just so pale, it was horrible.
I had looked on the internet at the symptoms – it came back with iron deficiency or leukaemia. ‘But my kids won’t get that,’ I thought, ‘that’s what other people’s kids get’.
We went to see our family GP, and when she heard the story and saw the bruise, she requested a blood test. After the blood test at hospital, my wife dropped me at work on the way home. Within an hour, she called me saying: “We have got to get Ace back to hospital now. He is in a serious condition.”
The hospital took some more blood, and when the results came back, it was all foreign to us. Haemoglobin, platelets, neutrophils – we didn’t know what all those things were, and the numbers meant nothing to us.
We were shown onto a ward where there were four other children with their parents, and we got the look. The look is something that every parent going through this knows – it is a look that says ‘oh no, not another kid’, a look that says ‘you don’t know what is going to hit you in a minute’, a look that says ‘I am so, so sorry’.