Las Vegas adventures — the kind that provide healing

How Sin City offered a respite for my son amid his struggles with hemophilia

Joe MacDonald avatar

by Joe MacDonald |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for the

Spoiler alert: This story ends with a Golden Girl moment with my son.

Picture it: Las Vegas, 2015. My youngest son, Caeleb, is 9 years old. He and I tagged along with my wife, Cazandra, for a special event for the bleeding disorders community. My boy, who has hemophilia, and I were assigned a specific job: putting up a display booth for my wife’s company and taking it down afterward. During the event, Caeleb and I searched the city for new and exciting adventures to share.

I must admit that I never imagined taking my child to Las Vegas. I’d thought my boy’s first visit to what’s known as Sin City wouldn’t happen until his 21st birthday. However, I changed my mind and introduced Caeleb to the glitz and glam of the city. We hit just about every museum in the town.

One of our favorite attractions was SeaQuest. We walked up to the enormous aquarium with many types of ocean life, including several large sharks. My son stood in front of the glass, hypnotized by the beautiful ecosystem of the sea. I couldn’t help but get caught up in my boy’s excitement. At that moment, gazing into that world took him away from thoughts of hemophilia, internal joint bleeds, frequent hospitalizations, and pain too horrible to imagine. Finally, he had a reprieve from the daily complications that living with a bleeding disorder brings.

Recommended Reading
summer, advocate, mother, calm, grandfather, pain, health insurance, hope, spring, darkness, why me, medical cabinet, CRISPR, Dr. Connelly, nurse, hope, knowledge, perfect, change, new year's resolutions, sharing, vaccinations, season, thanks-living, life lessons, difficult people, manual, rest, unexpected, work ethic, pets

Rest for the Weary

I wanted time to stand still as my son experienced freedom from chronic illness. But unfortunately, hours must move forward, and sacred moments must remain stored in our memory banks and the recesses of our souls.

Perhaps those of us who struggle with bleeding disorders keep our times of rest as beacons of hope. When times get tough, and we grow weary from facing the effects of hemophilia, we may recall special happenings in our lives. In our remembrance, we may find the strength to face another day, confident that we may discover more adventures without an emphasis on a bleeding disorder.

In one of my favorite poems, “Choose Something Like a Star,” the Pulitzer winner Robert Frost writes:

“So when at times the mob is swayed

To carry praise or blame too far,

We may choose something like a star

To stay our minds on and be staid.”

For Caeleb and me, our star appeared in the beauty of the aquarium, filled with all sorts of sea life. The continuous motion of the great fish and other aquatic life cast a spell on us as we sat together without fear of an internal bleed or anything else that took us away from enjoying this watery beauty. For a moment, there seemed to be life without hemophilia, with my son and I sitting as if the incredible world under the ocean performed just for us, offering us the best show possible.

After a long while, we knew it was time to leave. We said goodbye to the sea life and discovered more places, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

At the end of the day, we caught up with my wife. She expressed jealousy about the time we had on our adventures, but she saw the joy on our faces as we recounted all we’d done that day. She looked a little sad that she hadn’t been able to participate, but we saved a few museums so she could join us.

Las Vegas would never be the same place I imagined after visiting it with my wife and son. I quietly thanked the city for providing us with a respite from the issues we face daily. Hemophilia still finds its way into our lives, but we forged experiences that reminded us that life is more than a bleeding disorder. We must look for moments of rest when we can cast our minds on other things and allow the power of the mind to rejuvenate our souls when we grow weary.

To the oldest Golden Girl, Sophia, thank you for giving us the phrase “Picture it!” Our hearts’ frames hold many images from the joy of our journeys. We recall them as a source of comfort when hemophilia rears its ugly head.

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.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.