Barb and Cole
“There were a lot of tears. A lot of fear. I wouldn’t let Cole go for fear he would die without someone there holding him.
Everything was fine – pregnancy, labour, delivery – nothing was out of the ordinary. We went home and came back 48-hours later for a quick check-up, which they always have you do. That’s when we noticed Cole’s belly was a little red. It was a really cold winter, so we thought I was just bundling him up too much or maybe his umbilical clamp was rubbing against his skin, so they removed it, gave me instructions on how to care for the area, and told us to come back again in two days. The next day it started getting redder but I thought, ‘We’re going back tomorrow, no big deal.’ When we woke up that following morning, his bellybutton was red, swollen and rock-hard. We went to the hospital and they called Dr. Blayney down to meet with us. He immediately sent us to Pediatrics for blood work and to get admitted.
Being a nurse, I understood everything they were saying to us. They’d come in, tell us something and I’d be in tears and my husband wouldn’t know why. When they initially told us Cole had a low neutrophil count I specifically remember asking, ‘Are you telling me my baby has cancer?’ because I had heard of the condition in oncology patients. All the doctor could say at that time was, ‘I don’t know yet.’
Cole was diagnosed with Neutropenia, which means he didn’t have enough neutrophils (a type of white blood cells) to fight off the bacterial infection that started in his umbilical cord. He was hooked up to an IV for antibiotics and we stayed at the hospital for seven days. They tried to figure out why it happened – it wasn’t common. Genetically everything was normal. Consulations were done with medical professionals all across North America. The doctor gave him an injection called G-CSF (Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor). It’s commonly used in oncology patients to boost their immune system. Cole responded really well to it so I continued giving him shots at home for the next two weeks. At first his white blood cell count skyrocketed, then it balanced out as we adjusted the doses. Cole was monitored closely for six months afterwards, but his white blood cells haven’t dropped since and he’s never had another infection.
It’s scary not knowing what caused it, because that means this could happen again the next time he gets an infection. With a sick child, you never know what the next day will bring.” – Barbara
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