A News Story Reminds Me of How I Handled My Son’s Bleeding Episodes
Columnist Joe MacDonald reflects on what true strength can look like
One recent evening, my wife and I watched our favorite television shows. After the last one ended, the local news came on to give us the latest updates on the day’s top stories. One segment touched me deeply, and I couldn’t help but think back on the many health difficulties my youngest son, Caeleb, has faced due to hemophilia.
The news story featured a very sick little boy whose family was gathered around his hospital bed. The dad, hoping to lighten the mood, turned to his son and began talking about funny things. He spoke of slaying dragons and promised they would run a race together once his son’s health returned.
By speaking pleasantly, the dad seemed to infuse his boy’s soul with hope as he fought the battle raging around him. The father said things to uplift him, give him purpose, and remind him that he wasn’t alone. The dad stood by his son’s bedside, urging him on to wholeness, infusing all his strength into his child’s veins.
The segment caught my eye because it reminded me of when I stood over Caeleb’s bedside, doing everything I could to help decrease his pain. I can’t tell anyone how much money I spent on Lego sets, in the hopes that working on them with my son might help take his mind off the immense pain he felt. Like the father on the news, I wanted to remove the sensation of sharp needles piercing my son’s skin in rapid bursts without ceasing. I felt like the more lightness I brought into the horrible situation, the more control I could take away from the source of his anguish.
I hoped to keep the discomfort at bay, so I started playing video games with Caeleb. I didn’t know the characters’ backstories or anything about the games themselves, but I thought taking his mind off his internal bleeds could help him regain his composure faster. The goal was not to make me incredibly proficient at whatever game we played, but to be a presence in my son’s life as he battled joint damage and other issues arising from chronic bleeding episodes.
I played to help my son as he managed horrible bleeding episodes. I played because I wanted to remind Caeleb that I stood with him, ready to wage war against an enemy that observes no boundaries. I played because remaining with him during the worst of times, I hoped, would make him realize that I always had his back and would never leave his side.
Hours later, after watching the segment of the boy and his daddy in the hospital, I turned to my wife, Cazandra, and explained my feelings about watching the hospital events unfold on screen. As I shared with her, I started tearing up and became overwhelmed by my love for Caeleb. I realized that the strongest dads I know don’t wage war against their enemies, but stand with their loved ones in the face of danger and offer support.
I felt vulnerable as I shared my heart with my wife. We hugged, and she reminded me that our family is a strong force as we combat hemophilia. I agreed with her as I held my hands in the air, made a fist over my head, and yelled, “Shazam!” We laughed at our battle cry.
I gave thanks for the news story’s reminder that strength isn’t always revealed on a battlefield or through some Herculean display of might. Sometimes, it comes in the form of compassion and understanding as we try to help our child make it through more factor VIII infusions or another horrific bleeding episode. In the tenderness of a moment, strength makes its presence known.
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.