Hemophilia taught me how to stay calm in a crisis

Pondering the 'what ifs' can be scary, but a columnist uses it to her advantage

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald avatar

by Cazandra Campos-MacDonald |

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My husband and I typically fill certain roles in our home. I do most of the cooking; he takes out the trash and handles automotive maintenance (by going to the appropriate mechanic). But after 30-plus years together, we can seamlessly trade roles and share in all the responsibilities. When it comes to our sons, however, some boundaries can’t be crossed.

For example, I can’t take either of my sons shopping for clothes. It’s impossible to do it without a huge argument and hurt feelings, but I know my limitations, and they vehemently refuse to have me anywhere near the store. As for teaching our sons to drive, I’ve left that task in the hands of my competent husband. If shopping with my kids is a nightmare, how could I keep my composure the first few times they got behind the wheel?

Recently, though, I decided to take Caeleb, my 17-year-old, on a driving excursion. I couldn’t believe how calm I was as he sat in my car, adjusted the mirrors, fastened his seat belt, and slowly pulled out of the school parking lot. My voice remained steady, and I didn’t panic when he tapped the brakes too hard. Somehow I managed to keep my composure.

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When we returned home, Caeleb looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you didn’t lose it with me!” I laughed and told him we’d give it another go tomorrow.

How did I manage to keep my cool during such a nerve-wracking experience?

Focusing on the ‘what ifs’

Upon reflection, I realized that over the years of managing Caeleb’s bleeding disorder, I’ve changed. I’ve learned how to focus. To do that, I’d build an imaginary wall between myself and hemophilia. My emotions took a back seat because things needed to happen quickly. I’m the mom people want to have in a crisis.

During the most challenging years with Caeleb’s hemophilia and inhibitor, my husband was regularly out of town at school, so I often had to manage work and parenting alone. It never failed that a bleed would start when my husband was gone. But despite the tears my son shed, I never broke down and started crying. My mind would begin to map out the possibilities; the words “what if” became a way for me to prioritize what needed to happen.

What if Caeleb needs to be admitted to the hospital? How am I going to get Julian (Caeleb’s older brother) to school? I need to contact my boss. What about the dogs? How do I keep a routine for Julian? What if this hospitalization lasts for weeks?

Once Caeleb’s bleeding was being treated, either in the hospital or at home, I could go into the shower and release my emotions. Maintaining my composure in the face of a crisis was critical.

While I’m not a fan of “what if” questions, sometimes they’re necessary. When raising children with a chronic illness, thinking ahead and keeping calm are paramount. My experiences with my sons have taught me to keep my moments of panic in check.

I guarantee I won’t take Caeleb shopping anytime soon, but as for driving, we can do it together.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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