In their anguish, most parents remember only bits and pieces from the doctors early explanations about their child's disease. This dreamlike state is an almost universal response to shock. The brain provides protective layers of numbness and confusion to prevent emotional overload. This allows parents to examine information in smaller, less threatening pieces. Pediatric oncologists understand this phenomenon and are usually quite willing to repeat information as often as necessary. Many centers have nurse practitioners who translate medical information into understandable language and answer questions.
It is sometimes helpful to write down instructions, record them on a small tape recorder, or ask a friend to help keep track of all the new and complex information.
The doctor ordered a CBC from the lab. All the while I'm still convinced my son's bleeding gums were caused by his six-year molars. The rest happened so fast it's hard to recount. We ended up at the hospital getting a bone marrow test. My husband and I tried to tell the doctor that we would go home and let Stephen rest and that when we came back in the morning they could do another CBC. We were positive that his cell counts would go up in the morning. He said that we didn't have until morning. He said Stephen was very, very sick. After the bone marrow test, the doctor called us in a room and said that Stephen had leukemia. After that word I couldn't hear a thing. My ears were ringing, and my body was numb. There were tears in my eyes. It was actually a physical reaction. I asked him to stop explaining because I couldn't hear him. I asked for a book and went back to the hospital room to read and to cry.
For the longest time (in fact still, three years later) I can hear the doctor's voice on the phone telling me that Brent had leukemia. I remember every tiny detail of that whole day, until we got to the hospital, and then the days blur.
I felt like I was standing on a rug that was suddenly yanked out from under me. I found myself sitting there on the floor, and I just didn't know how to get up.
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Although nobody gets a parenting manual or bible in the delivery room, it is our duty as parents to try to make our kids as well rounded, happy and confident as possible. It is a lot easier to bring up great kids than it is to try and fix problems caused by bad parenting, when our kids have become adults. Our children are all individuals - they are not our property but people in their own right.