Andrew had been out riding his bike with his friend Wes a few weeks before his diagnosis. Wes is 3 years younger than Andrew. That’s what was so amazing about Andrew, he could get along with kids 3-4years older than him and 3-4years younger. He could relate to them all.
They had gone up to the local plaza to go to the Dollar Tree, the only store they could afford. They preferred quantity to quality as most boys do. As Andrew was riding off the sidewalk he took a spill on his bike. In his infinite Andrew way, he says, “That was a gross miscalculation of the curb!” LOL He scraped up his leg pretty good. It bled a little, I’ll say it again, IT BLED A LITTLE! It was scraped up to where there was blood. This was only a few weeks prior to his diagnosis of LEUKEMIA!! While he always kidded around that he bruised like a peach, he didn’t bruise easily and his scrape did not bleed non stop! In fact it healed pretty quickly!! A FEW WEEKS PRIOR TO HIS DIAGNOSIS! Talk about NO symptoms!
It was July 6, 2007, Andrew had been riding his bike with Wes. Later that day Andrew told me that he had a headache. I told him to stay inside where it is cool, he probably got too much sun riding around all day. We live in Florida and the summers are brutal. SO he stayed inside and was on his computer. He was always looking up John Denver youtube videos. He was just crazy about John Denver. He loves him so much! I know! Weird for a 16yo to be so into John Denver but he was. Andrew thought he was an absolute genius and loved what he stood for.
We’d hear John Denver blaring out of his room and Martin and I would look at each other and say “Can we really shout, turn that noise down!?” Unlike, what can only be described as Satan, devil worship music, that we use to hear coming from our daughter’s room at that age, this was quite refreshing! Andrew was such an easy teenager. I was so enjoying it too!
Andrew stayed in the rest of the day inside. Wes came by to hang out. On Saturday Andrew still had a headache so I told him to rest and I gave him some Excedrin. As the day wore on he wasn’t feeling well so I gave him some grapefruit seed extract, a natural antibiotic. He was on the computer for most of the day so I didn’t think much about it.Wes was here as well. By night time he wasn’t feeling well at all, his throat was sore. On Sunday he ran a fever. I kept giving him the grapefruit seed extract and other herbs. He was in his room with no lights on laying down, that is unlike him. He always has a light on at night. Wes would come by but Andrew wasn’t up for it. Wes would try and come by several times a day because he’s not use to Andrew not feeling well and figured it would just pass.
On Monday I took him to the acupuncturist. Our friend Denise, is school for it, so I took him to the student clinic. Why not? It’s just swollen glands, no biggie, right? SO he got a treatment. They did ask if he smoked because they noticed something up with his lungs but he did not smoke. His tongue was outta whack too but he did take some NyQyll so that discolors the tongue. They gave him some herbs for the throat.
Andrew was actually feeling better Monday night. He was up and chatting, playing guitar and eating. I was happy he was feeling better. Tuesday he wasn’t feeling that well again. I called Denise and she got me more herbs because his throat was extremely sore. His fever would break and then go up to 102F. I told him we’d give the herbs one more night, have him take some NyQyll so he could sleep and see how he was in he morning.
Wednesday morning Andrew said he wanted to go the walk in clinic. We didn’t have a doctor, he hasn’t been to one since he was 4yo! We are a holistic family first then western medicine. His throat was still extremely sore, he had vomited during the night and just wasn’t feeling right. Looking down his throat we could see how swollen his glands were so off we went to the clinic.
I called my daughter to tell her I had to take Andrew to the Dr and would be by with her birthday cake later on. We get to the clinic and Andrew is very polite and in good spirits with the Dr. They did a blood test on him TWICE! The Dr. ran it again because he wanted to make sure the machine hadn’t messed up. Andrew’s white count was off the charts. The Dr. explained that his machine was too small that we would have to go to the E.R. to get a proper count. He pushed on his abdomen which I thought was odd. Andrew was sensitive there.
Martin and I did what we could to keep Andrew’s spirits up joking around. We took him to the E.R. and by this time Andrew was vomiting, not a lot but he was really feeling sick now.
I had to call my daughter to tell her that I would be later with her cake because we were now going to the E.R. with Andrew.
I took a picture of Andrew in the wheel chair in the E.R. because he looked like a rock star after a long night of partying. I took a pic of him and Martin after he got his very first of many IV’s. It was Andrew’s first hospital visit and I figured I’d take pics not thinking it would be all that serious.
The Dr. came in and said something about a possible abscess in his throat and may need surgery! What?? That alone I was freaking out about. Now I wish that was all it was! A little while later the Dr calls Martin out into the hall to talk to him and I stay in the room with Andrew.
Martin comes back in calm so I didn’t think anything of it. Martin asked me to get a drink with him. Andrew said it would be ok if we left. As we walk down the the hall Martin tells me that they are testing him for leukemia and lymphoma!!! I nearly pass out! I had to walk outside and the tears start and I am so dazed and confused, I feel faint I had to sit down before I collapsed. All I could think was that they made a mistake, it can’t possibly be! He’s a 16yo healthy boy! He just has strep or something.
But I was wrong, he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Then we are told that he has to be transported to All Children’s Hospital by ambulance. I can’t even think straight! I am calling people in hysterics telling them what has just happened. I was a mess. But I had to pull myself together for Andrew.
I do and go into him. He was eating and feeling a bit better with the IV. Martin and I decide we have to tell him what is going on since the ambulance will be rushing him to ACH soon. We explain that he was diagnosed with leukemia. He asked what that was. We simply told him that his body was making too many white cells and they are hurting his healthy cells. Andrew just said “Oh, ok.”
We decided Martin would ride in the ambulance with Andrew since he could handle this more calmly than I could. I would be the one to go home and sort things out & call people. I couldn’t bear to see my baby get loaded into an ambulance, it was just too much at the time for me to handle, so kissed abd hugged Andrew and I left just as they were coming to get him. Little did I know that would be the least of things I would have to witness!
We lived 2 miles from the Sarasota Memorial, I screamed the whole entire way home. I screamed and screamed and screamed thinking that some how that would change things. This could NOT be happening to this amazing child!
When I got home I slammed cabinets, doors, anything I could find. What a goddamn nightmare! This can’t be our life now! One thing we are is HEALTHY! Especially Andrew! He is the most healthiest physically, spiritually and emotionally person we know! How can this be happening to him? Nothing about life was making any sense!
Martin said that in the ambulance Andrew said to him, “At least it’s nothing serious Daddy.” I know Andrew believed that there was nothing we couldn’t deal with or heal as long as we were together.
I have to take a break now because this is getting too intense for me. This is as hard as I thought it would be. My heart is racing, I feel nauseous, the tears are welling up just having to go back to that place. Talking about his younger years is fun. This? And what’s coming up? Is very hard!