Returning to daily life after celebrating milestones

Lessons from a 'mountaintop experience' continue to serve us

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by Joe MacDonald |

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For the last two weeks, my family has celebrated a significant milestone for my youngest son, Caeleb. He graduated high school and now looks forward to life as a college freshman. My boy is excited about this new adventure.

While I’m grateful that he celebrated a mountaintop experience, I realize the most significant part of his journey lies before him. I find myself wondering, “What scars from childhood will Caeleb carry into adulthood?”

A chronic illness doesn’t respect the boundaries of age. In my son’s case, hemophilia continues to make its presence known. Gone are the days when Caeleb suffered innumerable breakthrough internal bleeding episodes, but now he suffers debilitating pain from past complications. Continuous assaults on his right knee and ankle left my son with little to no cartilage in those joints.

Caeleb’s graduation is a beautiful and momentous occasion. I think about the little boy who missed most of his second grade year because of breakthrough bleeding issues. I reflect on when he used a wheelchair to move through the world, because one horrible episode filled his knee with blood, leaving him unable to straighten it and walk. He didn’t fully heal for at least seven months. But despite these critical issues, Caeleb survived and earned his diploma.

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Coming down the mountain

The celebration was deserved, but we knew it had to end eventually. My son needed to come back down to earth and focus on the next part of his journey: college.

In addition to dealing with financial aid, class registration, and ordering books and supplies, my son faces other issues many incoming students don’t need to address. He must meet with the on-campus health team regarding his hemophilia treatment, and he needs to know who to report to if he suffers any complications.

Coming down the mountain doesn’t mean Caeleb won’t celebrate more triumphs; it means that there is life after a celebration.

Returning to the daily grind means that he must take the lessons he learned in his youth and apply them to experiences he faces in adulthood. While it’s important to give thanks when we reach a milestone, we know we must return to day-to-day life. We hope to descend into the valley equipped with different ways of managing situations that may have seemed impossible in the past.

Celebrating Caeleb’s academic achievement reminded me that one way we survived hemophilia-related issues in his youth was by finding moments of gratitude. We rejoiced when he no longer needed a wheelchair. We gave thanks when medicines worked and his internal bleeding episodes stopped. Through every crisis, we found reasons to be thankful.

I hope my son has learned the lessons he’ll need to live a full life with a bleeding disorder. I pray he remembers to take a few minutes to celebrate when he overcomes significant hurdles, both in his day-to-day life and when he’s dealing with chronic pain.

One of my favorite church hymns is “Lord of the Dance,” whose refrain suggests taking time to celebrate: “Dance, then, wherever you may be/ I am the Lord of the Dance, said he/ And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be/ And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.”

May Caeleb dance as an adult, secure in the many lessons he’s learned about overcoming fear and maintaining a joyful spirit.

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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