Most moms of children with bleeding disorders have a sick and twisted sense of humor. Many of us use humor as a coping mechanism. Honestly, I don’t know how I could have managed all these years without many moments of levity and giggles.
For instance, one of the scariest potential bleeds Thomas ever had is also one of my funniest moments of parenthood.
It was Nora’s first day of pre-Kindergarten and my mind was focused on her. Not only was my oldest child starting school, but it happened to be a Mandarin Chinese immersion school. It was a big day. Thomas had just turned 3 years old; he was fairly self-sufficient and no longer a helpless infant.
I drove both kids in the minivan, and tearfully said goodbye to Nora on her first day at a strange new school.
As I pulled into the garage back at home, Thomas leaned out of the car, and regurgitated a load of black vomit with the consistency of coffee grounds on the garage floor.
At 3 years old we were dealing with the height of some serious inhibitor complications. As all bleeding disorders community members know, any sort of bleeding, particularly internal, is a serious issue. We were trained to recognize the signs of a gastrointestinal bleed — either a very dark stool or dark vomit with the consistency of coffee grounds. Dark vomit? Check. Coffee grounds? Check. Let the panic begin.
Poor Nora was completely forgotten as I tried recalling any injuries that might have caused a stomach bleed. I called the local Hemophilia Treatment Center, who advised me to quickly collect a sample and bring it in for immediate testing. I was practically in tears, worried that my worst fears had come true.
Doing my best CSI impersonation, I scooped up a sample of the dark vomit using a plastic bag and quickly buckled Thomas back into his car seat.
Racing to the doctor — vomit sample up front and a pale, stomach-clutching Thomas in the back — the guilt set in. I had not been paying enough attention to what Thomas might have been doing that morning. Had he fallen down? Or was it spontaneous? Did he swallow something sharp that tore a hole in his stomach?
Fourteen harrowing miles later, as I pulled into the parking lot at the Hemophilia Treatment Center, Thomas finally spoke. Still clutching his abdomen, he weakly confessed, “I shouldn’t… have eaten… so many Oreos.”
It turned out that while I was completely engrossed with Nora, Thomas cleverly snuck a pack of Oreo cookies from the kitchen cupboard and had devoured the whole pack on the way to Nora’s school.
The HTC confirmed with testing that the sample, while it looked like a genuine intestinal bleed, was nothing more than partially digested Oreos.
Oreos are no longer allowed in our car.
I think we have to turn to sarcasm and laughter in the course of the stress of a chronic condition. If we let the seriousness of the condition consume us, it simply becomes too heavy a burden. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Our friends and family outside the bleeding community often don’t get how or why we can laugh in very serious circumstances, but I contend that a twisted sense of humor leads to a more balanced mental health!
Many thanks to my husband Nathan, who originally wrote up the tale of the gastrointestinal bleed that wasn’t.
Sonji Wilkes was born and raised in North Carolina, where during high school, she developed an appreciation for volunteerism and community service. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Behavioral Science from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2001. Sonji volunteers extensively in the bleeding disorders community and was selected as the 2006 National Hemophilia Foundation’s Volunteer of the Year. Sonji, her husband Nathan, and three children: Nora (11), Thomas (9), and Natalie (7), currently reside in Colorado.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.