Houston County
Feature Story
An annual Thanksgiving family reunion in 1990 was interrupted when eight year old Paul complained with shortness of breath, pain in the left side and leg cramps while playing outside with cousins. His problems had begun four weeks earlier with sinus drainage leading to sore throat and an ever so slow-rising temperature. The Monday following Thanksgiving a bone marrow aspiration confirmed our worst fears of acute lymphocytic leukemia. TCHA became our haven away from home and on Tuesday after Christmas, Paul was in remission. However, all roads still led to Birmingham for three years of preventative chemo and annual check-ups until 21 years old. Today Paul is a picture of health and very devoted to his position in the Internet department with a local total communications company. Paul and Megan, his bride of less than a year, stay busy with Megan working full-time during the day and attending night college classes while Paul gets in-house husband training in addition to their church activities. Through six hospitalizations at Children's for intraveneous chemotherapy during Paul's first six months of treaments, we knew we would be cared for and loved during those times. There was one RN responsible for his total care each shift other than an aide who did vital signs as needed. A qualified teacher was available for school-age children with a long-term illness. Library books could be checked out. Patients were allowed to dress in play clothes and go to the play room (if the doctor permitted) rather than staying in bed in pj's all day. We feel this contributed to a faster recovery in many cases. The staff there was wonderful in every way. As we came back to our local pediatrician and praised the program provided at Children's, we soon saw changes being made in the local hospital pediatric unit.