My Son Is Soaring to New Heights as He Transitions to Adulthood
As her youngest son approaches 18, this columnist is both excited and concerned
There’s a freedom children have when they swing. Sometimes they need a little push, but before long, they learn how to push themselves. The sounds of chains squeaking and shoes scraping the dirt are imprinted in my mind.
Swinging higher and higher is always the goal. Hair flies in the wind as kids lean back, catching a glimpse of the blue sky, dreaming about letting go. The older kids, the teenagers, jump on the swings and are soon flying high — and yes, some even let go and jump.
Being a teenager is like swinging, soaring to new heights, and then, upon turning the magical age of 18, letting go.
In the U.S., that age is also when we recognize young people as adults. This causes me concern, as my youngest son, Caeleb, is currently 16 and has hemophilia. Although he will remain on the family insurance plan until he’s 26, I still worry about his healthcare.
At 18, young adults transition from pediatric care to adult care. Caeleb will no longer be seen by the pediatric clinicians at the hemophilia treatment center who have known him since he was a little boy. Instead, he will go to the adult clinic.
When Caeleb was in elementary school, he experienced many complications due to hemophilia and an inhibitor. As a result, he was considered a medically fragile child for many years. Although 18 is still two years away, I fear what he may face in college.
Caeleb will need to be more proactive in managing his bleeding disorder and chronic pain. I work with him regularly regarding ordering his medication and supplies, and I try to teach him about insurance issues. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for teenagers to understand, and they often don’t see the importance until they’ve flown the nest.
When I sent my oldest son, Julian, to college many years ago, I didn’t have the same concern for him as I do for Caeleb, even though Julian also has hemophilia. Unfortunately, Caeleb’s health struggles have caused him to be vulnerable. For years he had no control over his body and bled into his joints regularly, causing severe damage that resulted in hundreds of needle sticks, IV insertions, and ports. I’m glad he’s in a much better place, but I worry about the world’s enticements.
With his newfound freedom to come, will my son remember the importance of not using recreational drugs? What about drinking? Sexual activity?! And most importantly, will he be compliant and administer his medication as directed? Will he let chronic pain keep him from moving forward and achieving his dreams? Unfortunately, the “what ifs” run rampant in my mind.
The swinging began the moment my boys came into the world. First, I held them on the baby swing, pushing slowly as my hands never left their backs. Then, they graduated to the big kid swing as I provided gentle pushes from behind. Caeleb is now swinging to new heights, though not letting go quite yet. When he does, I’ll catch him if he falls and cheer for him when he flies.
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.