Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Failure To Thrive and Anemia

One of things every mom would want to make for her child is to be sure that he's growing healthy. The hardest part of motherhood for me is when my children are sick especially when they are still so young.  Infants couldn't tell if something is painful or wrong with them.  We moms just feel when something isn't right with them. 

It is sweet to have a baby in the house.  They gave such joy and vibrant feeling in the home.  But I tell you they grow very fast, that at times we'd wish that they'll stay as babies that we can cuddle for longer more time.  In our case, hearing from the doctor that our baby isn't growing right made me so worried.  Every day I would pray to God for miracles to touch my baby's body so he'll thrive and grow as fast as he can.  What an irony!  This journey wasn't easy to accept. We've been through a lot of specialists to consult about his health to make his condition better. 

After months of work-ups and series of laboratory examinations, there are no significant laboratory findings rather than his anemia.  He has low red blood cell and hemoglobin count.  Healthy red blood cells are the ones who carry oxygen and nutrients for the nourishment of our body cells - the smallest unit of our body. So once the red blood cells are impaired it can cause retarded cell growth affecting all our bodily functions.  A number of reasons causes anemia. We had to consult a pediatric hematologist for EJ's case.  We are blessed to have one good doctor just near our place.  

Normal appearanc of RBCs under a microscope

The doctor needs to look at his peripheral blood smear.  I had an idea how it should normally look like under a microscope.  A normal red blood cell looks like a donut; it has a central pallor.  See the above photo. Any difference would mean abnormal results.  EJ's peripheral blood smear shows slightly microcytic rbcs (slightly small in size),  hypochromia (rbcs with lesser color because of low hemoglobin content), fragmented rbcs (broken cells), target cells (the central area has colored pigment) and crenated rbcs (this case can also be due to technical factors). This type of peripheral blood smear is typically seen in Iron Deficiency Anemia and Thalassemia. Our doctor told me not to worry or think further of our baby's condition. We will first consider Iron Deficiency Anemia and see how he will respond with iron treatment.  He was given high dose of iron supplement and Vitamin C. Vitamin C will aid the body's absorption of iron.  According to our doctor, patient should respond to iron therapy after two months but there are also cases as based in her experience that it takes four months to see more improved results.

Target Cells - Note of the colored central area
At times I don't know if I should be thankful that I am a Medical Technologist. A pro is that I can better understand what my child condition is. Cons are I go too far and end up worried thinking about my son's health. One thing I need to keep in mind is to be still and put hope on God because I know He's in control of everything. Though there are times I don't understand why we have to go through this kind of experience. It does hurt me so much and I do ask God why? In the Hematologist Clinic I see a lot of children undergoing chemotherapy their hairs are gone due to treatments and my heart breaks to see them and do feel their pain. In the part of the parents I know it is not easy to help their children fight to continue living. It is a real life's battle every day and fight to live.  Having me go through this understands how hard it is for parents when children go through difficult times like terrible diseases. If I could only take and bear that pain and disease I could have done it for my child.

EJ is finished his one month iron therapy.  His recent blood test is still below normal levels but better than the previous. We are still hoping his condition is going to improve with iron therapy only.  He showed good weight gain and is achieving his developmental milestones in time.  Since then he continued to be a very happy baby giving our home with so much fun and laughter.  Everyday we need God's grace to continue and in this time of situation God taught me to give Him thanks not only for the good things that happen in our life but also in times that I don't understand His ways because He is God.  I guess wouldn't be this close to Him if my life is easy and goes just the way I want it to be.

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