We should have known. The doctors told us there was no way we could have. All kids get fevers, and 99.8 percent of the time, it’s just a regular old cold. And of course, the doctors are right. It wasn’t our fault we didn’t catch it earlier. I still feel guilty though.
RC had been feverish off and on for a few weeks. We’d taken him to the emergency room, and they thought it was the flu. And it seemed that like that was the case. Motrin seemed to fix the problem, and kids get sick all the time, so there was nothing to worry about.
And then one day he was having trouble walking up the stairs. He was pulling himself up with the bannister instead of just using his feet. Lisa and I were obviously concerned, so we planned to take him to the pediatrician.
That night he woke up every hour screaming that he hurt. He didn’t have any bruises, and nothing seemed broken, but we couldn’t calm him down. That morning, the pediatrician took one look at him and insisted we had to take him to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. At this point, we thought it was still just a bad cold of some kind.
The people at CHOP didn’t know what it was either. We were going to have to stay overnight to run some tests. And each day they still didn’t know, so they had to run more tests. RC was having fun in the hospital’s playroom, but we all just wanted to go home.
We’d been in the hospital for a few days when they told us RC probably had chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis. I know, how could we not have realized that? It’s a immunological disorder that causes bone pain. There was no cure, but they told us they could treat it, if that was in fact the case. They had to run some more tests to rule some things out.
Lisa and I were relieved, or as much as you can be when you find out your son has a serious medical issue. They had some kind of treatment, and we could go home soon. He was going to be OK, and that’s all that mattered. If we could handle hearing loss, we could handle this.
In all the excitement, we had forgotten that we having a new floor put in our den on Monday. I drove home for a few hours in order to clean up. I got the house in order, packed up some fresh clothes, and started heading back to the hospital. I ordered a sandwich from Jimmy John’s (I was getting tired of hospital food, and wanted to eat anything that wasn’t from the hospital cafeteria), and while I was killing time waiting for my order at Barnes and Noble, my wife called to tell me our son had cancer.