Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Double Whammy

I used to dread cold season when the kids were younger. Because of their blood disorder, run-of-the-mill sniffles would lead to a fall in their hemoglobin, which would lead to pale, yellowish skin, which would lead me to take them for blood tests, which would sometimes lead to blood transfusions. No fun! By their first birthdays, my little vampires had each received a bunch of blood transfusions, but as they got older, they needed them less and less. So I have to admit I got complacent. I'd see them looking pale and yellow and think to myself, "Well, they're always anemic... So they're just fiiiine." And when they started looking REALLY yellow like a real-life Bart and Lisa , I'd say to myself, "Well, they're anemic AND they're Asian... So they're still fiiiine." Luckily, they have amazing people in their lives who aren't quite as inured to their sallow complexions and who aren't shy about speaking up when they'e looking a little too Simpson-esque. That's what happened a few weeks ago when the director of B's preschool, the wonderful Ms. Romy, called me up to tell me that she thought he was looking a bit off. I drove to his school right away, but though I thought he did look pale, he was going to be fine. After all, it had been over a year since his last tranfusion. Even so, Ms. Romy insisted that I take him to the doctor for testing. I remember thinking to myself, "Geez, she's pushy!" but I grudgingly schlepped our asses to the ER anyway. And thank God I did, because Ms. Romy was right - Benjamin was, indeed in need of a transfusion. Thank you, Ms. Romy!

Poor Benjamin wound up needing not one, but two transfusions. Two transfusions take a loooong time to complete, but luckily, the Cedars peds ward is filled with fun, kid-friendly stuff like a playroom and mechanized beds that, with the push of a button, go up and down and up and down and up and down and--- you get the picture.

In between his transfusions, Calliope and I slipped out to attend my Goddaughter Ella's first birthday party. Yes, I did feel slightly guilty for leaving the menfolk in the family at Cedars while we we womenfolk partied, but I needed a break from the rollercoaster ride of a hospital bed!

Benjamin didn't miss us too much, anyway. The mix of Benadryl and blood always makes him really sleepy. Within minutes of the start of his transfusion, his eyelids grew droopy, and soon, he was out.

Aren't they yummy when they're sleeping?

Calliope sure thinks so. She cozied right up to her big brother, and my heart just melted into a big puddle. I have to freeze this image in my brain for the next time the two of them are tearing the house apart.
A few days after Benjamin's transfusions, we dutifully visited his hematologist for a follow-up. While we were there, she kept asking questions about Calliope. "When was the last time your daughter was checked?" "Do you think she looks a little pale?" "Are her eyes always so yellow?" I started to get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. A blood test confirmed that Calliope was anemic, and that night, she was admitted to Cedars.

Though it was waaaay past her bedtime, she was wide awake. Guess she didn't get the memo that anemia is supposed to make you lethargic. As I watched her bounce off the walls, that line from the Energizer commercial played in my head: She just keeps going and going and going and going...

But even my little Energizer Bunny isn't immune to the lulling effects of Benadryl and blood. Like her brother, she knocked out into a peaceful little lump within minutes, and her Grandpa Chan had the pleasure of holding her as she drifted off to lullaby land.

Like her brother, Calliope received two transfusions. And like her brother, the procedures transformed her from a yellowish Simpsons character into a rosy-cheeked babe. Look at how absolutely stoked she is to be in that hospital bed!! Even so, she was even happier when she finally got the ok to go home.

If I hadn't been so absolutely exhausted from the double whammy of having both kids in the hospital within days, I woulda been dancing, too!

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