How my son with hemophilia has found a way to overcome ‘senioritis’

A high school senior's difficult journey of motivation and triumph

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald avatar

by Cazandra Campos-MacDonald |

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I remember having a malady that afflicts many during the last months of high school, college, or graduate school: senioritis. While it’s not a physical illness, this condition plagues many students as they near the end of their educational journeys, leading to absences and other problems.

Senioritis is basically a decline in motivation, which can lead to detrimental results. Grades can suffer, and that lowers a student’s GPA — which, for high schoolers, can affect their college admission. Staying motivated to the end is challenging as students look to their next chapter, whether it’s college, trade school, or the workforce. That next step can be exciting, and often a distraction from the remaining schoolwork.

Yet in our home, senioritis looks a little different.

Coping with physical challenges

My youngest son, Caeleb, will graduate from high school in May. His academic journey has been difficult because he has severe hemophilia A with an inhibitor, which often dictates his next move. In Caeleb’s elementary-school years, he missed numerous days because of repeated bleeding in his joints. Sometimes he needed days or weeks at home to heal. Many times, he was hospitalized to help manage his pain.

Once Caeleb began Hemlibra (emicizumab-KXWH), his quality of life and school attendance improved. I thought he was finally on the path to success once he entered high school. But during his junior year, he began suffering the aftermath of those years of excessive joint bleeds. As he endured chronic pain, he sometimes needed to use a cane, walker, or wheelchair. As a result, the number of absences in his senior year has been higher than he had in his elementary-school years.

It’s been a physically challenging year for my son.

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Our family has done everything possible to help motivate Caeleb. We’ve rearranged and cleaned his room and insisted he complete schoolwork at the kitchen table, as well as numerous other strategies to help him be successful. Most of the time, the results are disappointing — and difficult for Caeleb to handle.

What will my son’s next chapter look like if he can’t manage college and hemophilia? I’d been worried about him transitioning to adulthood. Then suddenly, something changed.

An awakening

Several weeks ago, Caeleb called his dad and asked if he could stay after school to do some work in the library. The next day, he did the same. Since then, doing his schoolwork in the library has been his routine, and it’s been successful.

Oh, how my heart leaps for joy that my son has found a way to keep himself motivated! I think about the years he struggled and how the library could’ve saved him before now. But I realize that high school for Caeleb has been about survival. He’s now ready to face the future.

When students fall prey to senioritis, several things can be done to help them move through it. By setting goals, taking breaks to recharge, or changing a study location, students can find ways to reenergize. Caeleb found success by changing his surroundings.

The long-lasting effects of a bleeding disorder can get in the way of life. Caeleb has experienced the worst of the worst over the years as he’s dealt with joint bleeds. His allergy to factor VIII, an inhibitor that has never gone away, missed school, debilitating pain, and loss of mobility are not issues that should plague anyone, much less a boy.

I admire my son. This journey with hemophilia and an inhibitor is all he’s known. As a result, he has a strength that many adults don’t have. Instead of letting his bleeding disorder be an excuse for not achieving in school or allowing senioritis to distract him, Caeleb is excited about college.

I was afraid this awakening wouldn’t happen.

How glad I am that it did.

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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