Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Gave My Son Hemophilia

I gave my son hemophilia. This is a bold and hurtful statement for me to make but it is based on the facts. When Tommy was first diagnosed, I made all kinds of uneducated reasons as to why he was born with a bleeding disorder. Although I did cut caffeine and energy drinks out of my daily routine when I became pregnant with him, I did drink one bottle of Coke per day. In my mind, this surely had to be a contributing factor as to why he had a bleeding disorder. I did drink the occasional glass of wine (which was OK per my doctor) and this surely had to be a contributing factor as to why he had a bleeding disorder. I slept on my side and I must have been suffocating him and this surely had to be a contributing factor as to why he had a bleeding disorder. These assumptions are humorous to me almost three years later, but I was not far off with the theory that I did give him this disorder.

I can tell you two possible scenarios as to why my son was born with a bleeding disorder. The first scenario is that it was a spontaneous mutation. There is no known history of hemophilia in the family, so it basically just happened with no known reason. The second, and most difficult scenario for me to accept, is that I gave it to him. Although my theories of drinking wine or Coke during pregnancy were far-fetched, it could have been reflective of a premonition that it was my “fault.” Being a female, the chances of me having hemophilia are extremely rare and uncommon. That is because hemophilia is an X chromosome disorder. Females have two X chromosomes (Xx) and it would be almost unheard of for a female to carry two defective copies of it. However, it is possible for a female to indeed carry a single defective X chromosome, while the other X chromosome remains normal, and this would qualify her as being a carrier of Hemophilia. Although a woman can be a carrier, it is generally assumed that her normal X chromosome picks up where her abnormal X chromosome is failing, and she will not suffer any bleeding issues. However, in the conception of a child, it is the mother who passes the X chromosome onto a son while the father passes his Y chromosome. Therefore, there is no chance that Hemophilia could be passed from father to son. Does that make sense to you? Yes, I still get confused with it as well.

Let me put it this way. Once again, a female is composed of two X chromosomes (female = Xx) while a man is composed of one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (male = xY).  Based on that, a woman will ALWAYS pass one of her X chromosomes onto her child (because that’s all she has) while a man will either pass an X or a Y. When a man passes his X chromosome, that combined with a woman’s X chromosome, it will produce a girl. Women are made up of two X’s remember? If a man passes his Y chromosome, combined with a woman’s X chromosome, it will produce a boy. So you see, my husband passed his Y chromosome to be combined with my X chromosome in order for us to have produced a boy. Hemophilia A is a blood disorder connected with an abnormal X chromosome. That chromosome was passed by ME. Now, as I am writing this, I have yet to have tests done on myself to determine if I am a carrier. However, the way I see it is that regardless if I am a carrier or not, I gave him that abnormal X. Either way, I am justified in blaming myself. Of course, anyone reading this can tell me a hundred different reasons why this is not my fault, but as a mother, I will always carry this weight.

I am not the type of person who looks for sympathy. On the contrary, sympathy from others makes me feel like my situation is a sorry one. My situation was an unexpected one and did derive a ton of sympathy from others in the beginning. However, I have embraced this life and I carry a heart full of pride for my son. In a few short years, Tommy has taught me what strength is. Tommy has taught me what drive is. Tommy has taught me to play with the cards I was dealt and how to come out with a Royal Flush. Tommy Cameron is my hero.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Painful Life

Hemophilia is a blood disorder, not a curse. It is up to the person who is diagnosed with this disorder to determine how he looks at it. From the moment I was able to understand what was different about me, I made the decision to not allow my diagnosis to hinder the way I live my life. While making this decision, I also made a commitment to myself to live a productive life. By productive, I mean a life that would give me joy without necessarily putting me in any immediate danger. These two decisions have led me to where I am today.  

One of the biggest hurdles for me in my life was determining whether or not to treat prophylactically (prophy) or as-needed. Being on the border of severe to moderate Factor VIII deficiency, I was always told by my physicians that I should go to a prophy regimen. But as I said earlier, I was not going to let this disorder control me, so I decided to treat as-needed, and I continue to do so to this day. This decision is one that has had numerous ups and downs throughout my life, but one that I do not regret.  

When I was younger, I was extremely active in baseball, basketball and golf. These three sports, combined with my extreme competitive nature, created a recipe for numerous injuries and accidents. I rarely treated before any big event or game, and if I injured myself, I sucked it up and told myself that it was an injury that any other athlete could have gotten throughout the course of that sporting event. I would then go home, suffer from a sprained ankle or jammed finger, treat myself and move on. As I have gotten older, I actually treat myself less because I’m not quite as active as I used to be in sporting events. However, I do keep in shape and exercise which has always been key to my health for my joints and muscles.  

You can call this being hard-headed or stupid, but this was the way that I dealt with my diagnosis.  I do have pain, and probably more than some hemophiliacs because of my hard-headedness, but I am proud to say that I have always treated as-needed and refuse to allow hemophilia to control me. Instead, I will treat it. This decision is one that is tough to make, but one that each individual in my situation will have to make.