One Friday night, my PICC line was clogged. We had to go to the hospital as the Cancer Center was closed. (The nurses couldn’t unclog it and I needed a clog-busting enzyme to roto-rooter it out.) While we were waiting for the doctor’s orders to inject the enzyme, a young Hispanic man shuffled wearily into the waiting area and slumped into a chair.
The three of us, him, Bonnie and me began talking. His wife — thirty years old — was just hospitalized. She has aplastic anemia. She’s producing no red blood, white blood or platelets. They have two children, three and one. Six months after the birth of their second child she went back to work but was very tired and bruised easily. After a few days, her supervisor told her to see a doctor. That’s when it was discovered.
She was about to undergo a transplant when she developed appendicitis. Given her blood counts, they couldn’t operate. Her appendix burst. It seemed hopeless. As a last resort they pumped her full of antibiotics. To their amazement, the antibiotics dried up the infection and miraculously, she was saved.
But that was just their first hurdle. Next came the transplant. On the day before, the couple married.
But the transplant ultimately failed to fully engraft, a boost failed to correct the downward track, and now, exactly a year later, they were back fighting for her life. As we spoke, they were pumping her full of blood products in hope that they could perform a second transplant.
Later, we related this story to one of the nurses in the ITA. She said they were seeing a lot of young mothers who had developed a blood cancer shortly after giving birth. She speculated that it was hormonally induced. I’m sixty-five. My kids are grown and I got to watch it all. My heart goes out to that beleaguered family.