The Unexpected Moments When Hemophilia Strikes

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by Joe MacDonald |

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I will never forget the night I was ordained as an elder in full connection in the United Methodist Church.

We were about three and a half hours away from home at a church in the small town of Clovis, New Mexico. My ordination took place at the close of the New Mexico Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

To say I felt a twinge of pride is an understatement. It took me three years to earn my Master of Divinity at the Iliff School of Theology, and then three years of serving as a provisional candidate. Finally, all the hard work was paying off, and I would have my new credentials.

My sister flew in to see me, as well as members from several churches I’d served. My wife, Cazandra, planned to stand beside me through the service.

We started the worship service, and everything moved as planned until someone tapped my wife on the shoulder and asked her to follow them. Cazandra looked pale, and I asked her if something had happened.

“Is everyone OK?” I asked, afraid to acknowledge that the answer was no.

“MacDonald the Younger” had a joint bleed into his target knee. He could not control himself, and the medicine we had did nothing to help his pain.

I walked out of the service and saw my boy writhing in pain. “This was a bad one,” I thought to myself.

We quickly decided that I would return to the service and be ordained while Cazandra took my son to the hospital. I looked at my amazing wife, and she looked like someone had knocked the wind out of her sails.

I told her, “It’s OK. He needs you now, and I will follow as soon as I can.”

She left without seeing the moment the bishop placed his hands on me and announced to the world that I was an elder in full connection with the United Methodist Church.

This was one of the most sacred moments of my life, and my wife and son missed it. None of this was his fault, but part of me railed against hemophilia. It robbed me of time that should have been spent with my family, and it pulled us apart.

How could it cause my son so much pain, and how could it deprive us of a milestone that deserved celebration? Why couldn’t it wait until after the service?

I finished the service and attended the reception afterward. My colleagues and parishioners were kind to me and asked if they could help us in any way. I thanked them, but told them we would manage and looked forward to speaking later.

One man who sat with my younger son was noticeably uncomfortable seeing how much pain Caeleb endured. He caught a glimpse into our world and could not believe what he saw. I assured him that everything would be fine, and told him I appreciated his kindness when attempting to calm my boy.

As soon as I finished the evening, I took “MacDonald the Older” to the nearby regional hospital to see how Caeleb was doing. He had calmed down a little due to pain medication.

Cazandra apologized and could not believe this was happening. I assured her all was well. I had received my ordination, and everyone sent their prayers.

My wife and younger son returned home the following morning to get more factor VIII, hoping to manage the bleed so he would not have to face a hospitalization.

Hemophilia knows no bounds and does not care about the plans we make. When a bleed occurs, we lose power and switch into crisis mode until all is well. Many times, it tried to tear my family apart, but we proved formidable opponents.

The time we were not together on the evening of my ordination totaled about two hours. The rest of the night belonged to us. We were in a hospital room in an unfamiliar place, but who cared? We had each other.


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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