Monday, April 11, 2016

Catching up (Another relapse scare)


[I'm sorely behind on documenting Watts' story and also on updating any readers... I'll cut to the chase and say that Watts is doing beautifully and he is still cancer-free.]

At the end of February, Watts began complaining about leg pain. On February 29th, the pain intensified and, by the end of the day, Watts had stopped walking on his right leg altogether and was screaming in pain. Initially, we hoped that it was simply growing pains, but (because Watts' pain tolerance is so much higher than most kids his age) we worried that the pain was too severe for it to be something "normal". We knew also that it could mean a relapse of his cancer. We emailed his team and they responded immediately that we should come in first thing in the morning and to bring him in NPO after midnight.



The team jumped into action when we got there and we came up with a the plan for the morning. His lead doctor told us that when a post-leukemia patient comes in with leg pain, he is considered to have relapsed until proven otherwise. We needed to run labs, do xrays, and then we needed to consider sedating him to do a bone marrow aspiration.

Labs came back normal (which still didn't rule out a relapse) and we moved onto the xrays. The hope was that the xrays would show some sort of injury that could account for the pain. The xrays showed nothing abnormal so we made the decision, upon the recommendation by his team, to sedate him for a bone marrow aspiration. Because the pain was so severe, the team believed that if he had relapsed, there would be evidence of it in the bone marrow near his right hip.

We waited for a sedation suite to come available and Watts had to get an IV. In his three years of extensive medical treatment, Watts has only had to get an IV two times, thanks to his hickman catheter and later on his portacath. The first IV was put in in the ER when he first got sick (it took many, many attempts because he was so dehydrated) and the second IV was put in in the middle of the night when his hickman line broke (after 5 million tries a picu nurse had to be called to our room to finally get the IV in). I was a little nervous about how this IV would go and how Watts would respond, but, after a few attempts, the IV was in. Watts did beautifully.



Watts screamed for us as he was put to sleep but he quieted quickly and the sedation went well.



A doctor on Watts' team was down in the lab when his results were sent in and looked at the slide under a microscope, so we found out the preliminary results very quickly: Watts' bone marrow showed no sign of relapse! We were overwhelmed, thankful, very sobered by the fact that we were getting such good news when so many more around us were not.

Since all of the tests came back with no sign of a leukemia relapse, the team has hypothesized that Watts' body created too many antibodies to fight off prior stomach bug (that he had a week before the leg pain started), and that the antibodies began to attack his leg joints. I can't remember the medical term for this but it is apparently not very common in children. After a few weeks of needing to be carried more than usual and being a little more grumpy, Watts is back to his normal self.

We are so very thankful and reminded, yet again, that each day is a precious gift.


Through the love of God our Savior, All will be well
Free and changeless is His favor, All is well
Precious is the blood that healed us
Perfect is the grace that sealed us
Strong the hand stretched forth to shield us
All must be well

Though we pass through tribulation, All will be well
Ours is such a full salvation, All is well
Happy still in God confiding
Fruitful if in Christ abiding
Steadfast through the Spirit's guiding
All must be well

We expect a bright tomorrow; All will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, All is well
On our Father's love relying
Jesus every need supplying
Yes in living or in dying
All must be well
Mary Bowly Peters (1847) & Matthew Smith (2007)

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