A lot of you are aware that we had our appointment with the hematologist last week. I know some of you are probably wondering how it went. I unfortunately wasn’t able to be there in person due to having to work. But luckily I have a wonderful husband who took Wally and I was able to be on speaker phone.
I may be repeating myself, but for those of you that do not know Wally is very high risk for infection and can become neutropenic very quickly due to his Barth Syndrome. Neutropenia is defined as, “A condition associated with a low white blood cell count. These types of white blood cells, called neutrophils, are made in the bone marrow and fight off infections. If there is a decrease in neutrophil production, an accelerated usage of neutrophils, or an increased destruction of neutrophils, the risk of infection increases, particularly those caused by bacteria or fungi.” We inquired an appointment with a hematologist so Wally could be followed more closely. Something as simple as a cold, or a common virus that most children get over quickly, could mean a hospital stay or even worse for a boy like Wally.
We had heard chatter that Dr. Tarantino was the best hematologist in the area. Luckily because of great connections we were able to get an appointment sooner rather than later. I was kind of sad I missed meeting him in person but let me tell you, the chatter we had heard was correct. We were not disappointed. The minute Dr. T walked in the room he sounded like a man who was very intelligent and knew what he was doing. Not only that but he was really interested and even seemed enthusiastic about learning more about Barth Syndrome. He spoke a lot about what he researched and learned about Barth Syndrome thus far and that makes our hearts sing! It is so refreshing walking into a new doctors appointment and not having to catch a physician up to speed on what is Barth Syndrome. To us it shows he’s interested, that he cares, that he’ll do anything he’s physically capable of for Wally. And that’s all we as parents can ask and hope for.
For kids that can become neutropenic there is a threshold so to say, on when you need to take them to the hospital. Dr. T talked a lot about this threshold and what he would like to see happen. Most of the time, we can tell when Wally is getting sick. He sleeps better 🙄🙄. He’s quiet. Almost like he’s in a daze. Dr. T would like us to call him when we notice this so we can get Wally in for a blood draw to have his neutrophils checked. We know Wally’s neutrophils have been low before but they have not been in the dangerous range thank the lord! But just because it has not happened yet…. does not mean it never will. Like Shelley says, neutropenia in Barth boys can rear it’s ugly head at any moment, and the best thing we can do is be prepared.
One thing that we were expecting to happen was for Wally to start weekly blood draws to obtain a pattern of his neutrophil count. But Dr T does not think at this time that we need to check Wally’s blood every week. He says he does not want to put Wally through that. In the near future that may be something we do. Instead, he would like to gather data by us observing his symptoms, keeping a journal, and getting Wally’s blood drawn when he seems “off”. If Wally were to spike a fever of 100.4 or over we are to call Dr. T and most likely to the hospital we go. The goal is obtain blood cultures and a complete blood count when this happens to make sure Wally has the neutrophils to fight off whatever infection he has acquired. If there were ever a time where his neutrophils were too low, or Dr. T thought it was necessary we would be admitted to the hospital for further work up and possibly preventative antibiotics.
What really surprised us about Dr. T is his willingness to want to learn more. And the research he wants to conduct. Something that I found interesting and had never thought of until the conversation with him, is the immune system as a whole for a child like Wally. A lot of the literature and research that has been done is about the neutrophils. Dr. T is interested in digging deeper in to the immune system of a Barth child. Wally finally got caught up on all his vaccines the day of his appointment with Dr. T and because the timing worked out so well, he would like to in six to eight weeks check Wally’s blood to see how is immune system has responded to the vaccines. If his body has not taken to the vaccines, not sure where we go from there but an infectious disease specialist may be consulted.
The scare of not having the appropriate amount of neutrophils to fight off infection is that…. if you get a virus and your white blood cells do not have the appropriate troops to fight off that virus… Eventually that virus or infection will travel into your blood stream, where you become septic. And sepsis is very, very, bad. Especially for a child. Especially for a child like our Wally. I will not get on the vaccine debate in this post and this may be a little off topic but I need to say it. Vaccinate your children!!! And another thing, please, I do not care if you want to hold Wally, but if you have been sick or are sick STAY away. Far away! This may be common sense, but I’ll say it anyway. You MUST wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before touching or holding Mr. Wally J PERIOD! I hate to be “that mom” but with Flu season coming up (I am literally terrified) AJ and I will be enforcing this as hard as we can! Our goal is to keep Wally out of the hospital. I think some people do not understand how important this is. Germs live everywhere. Germs spread easily. So please, do not take offense if we ask you to wash your hands, or if you have been sick. It is only to make sure we are keeping Wally safe and as healthy as possible.
Overall we are very enthusiastic about how the appointment with the hematologist went. I also cannot say it enough, Wally’s actual care team, and all his physicians that are on his case, are truly the best. We could not be anymore grateful for the people we have looking after Wally. Dr. Tarantino is just another amazing physician to add to our already amazing list of care providers. We are off to the GI specialist tomorrow! I am really nervous about this appointment because of all of Wally’s GI issues, we just need answers. Our lives may be crazy, our calendars booked, BUT we are truly blessed with the little boy that is Wally J!
Love you all!
Wally’s Momma 💕💕💕