My parents have always maintained that if a doctor looks hard enough, she’ll find something. Given medical technology and education these days, I believe that’s probably true. But I also think we know when there’s really a problem—whether we admit it or not.
Before my dad was diagnosed with CML, he knew he was sick. He had been throwing up at work for weeks. My mom later admitted she knew, too; she could smell the sickness. But they both carried on in willful ignorance because once you know the truth, you can never go back. When you find out Santa Claus isn’t real, a bit of the magic is gone forever.
I’m guilty of the opposite. More than once, I have (incorrectly) diagnosed myself with a serious affliction and put off seeing a doctor. If I didn’t dare to ask the question, I couldn’t get an answer I didn’t want. Apparently my dad shared this philosophy.
When I was a kid, he would hike his tube socks over mottled skin on his lower legs whenever he wore shorts. For as long as I can remember, my dad’s legs had been discolored. He knew his skin didn’t look quite right, and my mom knew, too. With the CML diagnosis came a complete physical, including underneath those socks.
It turns out my dad also has hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder where the body holds onto too much iron. The iron buildup discolors skin, and, given enough time, damages organs. Sure enough, within a few years of putting a name to the problem, there was a tumor in my dad’s liver.
BrightStar Care is honored to feature Leah’s unique story, an experience shared by many adult children as their parents grow older and caregiving roles begin to reverse. Follow Leah’s journey here.
All names, including the author’s, have been changed to protect identities, and Leah has no affiliation with BrightStar Care.