I have had anemia off and on most of my life so it was no surprise to me last year when my Pediatrician told me that my middle daughter, Sarah, was also anemic. I figure either my eating habits or a hereditary factor would play into it.
When we found out, she went on medication. Easy medication because she was too young to really know what was going on and it only lasted a short time.
But when she tested positive for anemia this time, it was much more severe! And to add to the stress of dealing with it with one daughter, my youngest daughter also was anemic. A total surprise to me.
Their numbers were so low – over 50% lower than they should have been – that the back up Pediatrician got a call from the lab requesting that he contact us immediately.
So, on a Saturday, we got a call asking if our children were tired, pale, lacking energy, or had any change at all in activity levels. And did we know where the nearest pediatric emergency room was in case one of them passed out.
I was scared.
Luckily, my Pediatrician, who had already consulted with a Hematologist, had a prescription called in for both girls by the time this call came in. But while we waited for the Pharmacy to track down that much medication, we worried.
Because we knew that Sarah had not grown in 9 months. And we knew that we now had to worry about a life long battle. And we knew that, somehow, we had to get 8ml of Ferrous Sulfate a day into Sarah and 6ml into Megan. I was stressed out and tired just thinking about it.
And I blamed myself. If I had fed them better, been more careful with their milk intake, or let them have juice when they were young so I could slip meds into a juice box, this would not be happening – or at least be easier. If I had done my job RIGHT!
But the Pediatrician assured me that I was fine and some kids were just anemic, no matter what precautions you took. They did do a test to see if it was something they inherited from me but the results were shaky, at best.
We picked up the medicine and the daily fight began. Megan was OK. She could at least be tricked.
But Sarah… my too smart for her own good, can tell when the taste of her yogurt, mac and cheese, spaghetti sauce, and any other food has been altered, strong willed little girl, was determined not to take any of the medication.
She was awful. She had to be held down, twice a day, by two people, with a napkin ready for what she spit out. Terrible. Torture. Guilt.
But we did it. We had to give her a chance to beat this once and for all.
For two weeks, we diligently forced her meds on her and prayed that, though she spit out most of it, she as getting enough to help with the anemia.
And then her teeth started to turn grey, a nasty side affect to the iron. Like rotten teeth that people have right before they fall out. I was upset. Very upset.
My babies perfect little white teeth looked horrid.
And then Megan’s started to turn and it was about all I could do not to call the Pediatrician screaming at the top of my lungs!
So we started to brush their teeth with washcloths. It actually was a lot easier than a brush! And we noticed the stains lighten slowly. They are still grey, but not so… gross looking!
Finally making it to the 2 week mark, I took my girls to the Lab for their second intravenous blood draw in as many weeks. The girls did great! A few tears but overall, impossibly impressive!
And then the wait.
Did Sarah get enough to help raise her numbers and keep her from more ‘serious’ treatment? Treatment that I was terrified to even ask about! Did Megan get enough to prevent further blood draws and tears in her big brown eyes?
Were the days of torturing poor Sarah over?
Would their teeth be white again?
The call came in tonight and I braced for the results. I even asked the Nurse to wait a moment while I took a deep breath.
She said, “Per the Doctor, tell the Mom that the numbers have vastly improved and that there is no need for any more intravenous blood draws! But… she wants them on the meds for two more months and then a finger prick to make sure the numbers are still good!”
Two. More. Months.
More fighting. More struggles. More grey teeth.
But, I suppose in the end, it is not that bad. If we get this done and take care of their teeth, then we *hopefully* will be done with this! And in six months, it will be a distant memory!
In the end, iron deficiency in children is nothing to take lightly. It can rob them of so much if not treated. And I can not let my fear of the struggle do that to them!
I am their Mother, after all!