Preparing for my son’s senior year of high school brings hope

A columnist reflects on all the health challenges his son has overcome

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by Joe MacDonald |

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Oh, my goodness! My youngest son, Caeleb, is preparing for a wonderful senior year of high school. It seems like yesterday my wife and I carried him home from the hospital as a baby and dove into uncharted waters regarding his hemophilia diagnosis.

So far in my son’s short life, he’s experienced continuous joint bleeds, broken bones, high-titer inhibitors, and a rare allergy to factor VIII products. His response to factor VIII proved so unusual that the doctor and I could find only two medical cases in the world where a patient with hemophilia type A exhibited the same allergic reaction.

Now Caeleb is beginning his next adventure: navigating the choppy waters of his senior year.

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As I pulled into the school parking lot recently to help Caeleb register for classes, I could see his excitement. We stood in line to meet with the counselor and discussed possible schedules, driving options, and classes that caught his attention. I looked at his transcript and noticed that his junior year grades were significantly lower than in previous years.

Caeleb’s last school year proved tumultuous as he experienced several health problems, often resulting in absences. I was constantly stressed, afraid he might not catch up with his work after prolonged periods of debilitating pain. I even considered taking him out of public school and placing him in online courses due to the amount of work he’d missed.

Thankfully, the faculty at his school intervened and assured me he could meet his classes’ demands. I’m glad I took their advice, as Caeleb’s team of amazing teachers charted a course for his academic success.

As my son and I waited for the counselor to map out the classes Caeleb needed, we discussed strategies that would help him have a great year and prepare for college. I encouraged him to delegate a set time each day for homework and any necessary school-related tasks. We talked about where he might find the best place to study in the house. I loved that he initiated the conversation. I thought, “Hallelujah! My son wants to take responsibility for his success.”

As we talked, I realized that my days of serving as his caregiver are far from over. My wife and I still handle issues related to his bleeding disorder, but we’ve started talking with him about life after high school and the responsibilities he must take on. Our conversations start with school but often move to issues like financial literacy, ordering Hemlibra (emicizumab-KXWH), and counting inventory of auxiliary items like Band-Aids, Sharps disposal containers, syringes, and gauzes. We can never get away from the reality of treating hemophilia.

As we talked with the school counselor about Caeleb’s chosen courses, I watched my son lead the discussion, and I couldn’t help but swell with pride. He’s overcome so many obstacles with grit, determination, and courage. The pastor in me thought of my favorite biblical passage: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14, King James Version).

We left the school after completing all the other requirements to register Caeleb for his senior year. Both of us walked for a few minutes in silence. Before getting into the car, Caeleb looked at me and said, “Dad, this is really it — my last year in high school. I hope I have a great year.” I assured him that he stands ready for success. His junior year was a thing of the past, and the future looks promising.

I felt tears come to my eyes as we stood in the parking lot. I said, “Son, I am very proud of you. No matter what life throws at you, you always overcome every obstacle. This year promises to be your best. Let’s make the magic happen. Now, let’s get out of here and go to Sonic for a root beer.”

Caeleb nodded, smiled, and said, “Let’s go.” His senior year is off to a great start.

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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