Abby has always been a child that required a lot of sleep. Since the day she was born, she was a twelve-hour sleeper, plus naps. I was always told that she would grow out of it. However, in December 2010, at the age of 7, she started needing even more sleep. I blew it off as her going through a growing spurt, or being overtired from long days at school. In January, it continued. Everyone kept telling me I was being overprotective.
She started withdrawing from her activities because she was too tired after a long day of school. Gymnastics, her favorite activity, became an argument each week. She would try to participate, but then after about 20 minutes of it, she’d come over to me and tell me she was too tired and her legs hurt. Again, in the back of my mind, I was becoming more and more worried.
When her birthday rolled around in February, she planned a slumber party at our house on a Friday night. Most 8-year-old girls would be ecstatic when they’d get off the bus on their birthday party day. Abby, however, came off the bus and asked if she could go upstairs into her room and read a book. Ten minutes later, she was fast asleep. I woke her thirty minutes before the party was starting, and she was groggy, grouchy, and really not interested in having her friends come over. This was not normal for my bubbly, friendly, social little girl.
The following week, I had her 8-year-old well check scheduled. Needless to say, I insisted on a blood test. When her blood counts came back low, I was immediately worried as my mother had passed away from leukemia 15 years ago. I knew what low blood counts could mean. Our pediatrician was worried as well, so he immediately called Dr. Lew who instructed us to take the counts again in one week. The following week, we had the same results. One week after that, we were at Scottish Rite for some tests. We left Scottish Rite thinking Abby had a blood infection that would resolve itself in two weeks. However, the following day, on March 11, 2011, the test results came back positive for leukemia. That is how our journey started.
During the past few months, we have obviously adjusted to a “new normal.” Our world revolves around doctor’s appointments, days at the clinic, spreadsheets of medicine dosages, and arranging activities around blood count levels. The doctors and nurses here have been amazingly kind, knowledgeable, helpful, caring, and loving. We have always been supported, loved, and cared for. All of our questions are always answered and if they don’t know the answers right away, we usually have them within a day. Everything is explained to us ahead of time, so we can plan accordingly. Most importantly, though, is the love and respect that they all give Abby. Abby is old enough to understand what is going on and to have questions of her own. Everyone at Scottish Rite talks to her, answers her questions, and makes sure she is as comfortable as possible.
I don’t wish this diagnosis or experience on anyone. In fact, if I could change our path and take it all away, I certainly would. However, if I have to go down this path, I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else other than here. I am grateful for all the love and respect we receive from all the staff, and I will be eternally grateful to them all.