Lauderdale County
Feature Story
In the summer of 2004 Michael was a happy 7-year-old boy. My parents took us on a trip to Disney World while my husband was serving in Iraq. During the trip, he complained constantly of pain in his hips and he was terribly fatigued. He enjoyed himself, but just barely. School started and Michael began to miss a few days here and there. He complained of shortness of breath and panted constantly. He had unexplained fevers periodically, and fell asleep in class several days a week. Months went by and Michael was treated for various normal childhood illnesses, but never really got better. While on Christmas vacation in Florida, Michael slept most days and had a slight rash on his face. When school started back in January, his fevers exceeded 103 degrees and he felt terrible. We went back to the pediatrician and he was hospitalized because of anemia. He received two blood transfusions. After performing several tests, Drs. Grant Allen and Erika Crenshaw diagnosed Michael with lupus and referred him to Children's. Michael has endured a bone marrow aspiration, two kidney biopsies, a colonoscopy, an upper endoscopy, and multiple hospitalizations. He suffered through steroid induced diabetes and takes many daily medications to treat this incurable illness. His eyes have been affected by his lupus as well. Michael now sees three different doctors at Children's to treat him for his disease. His daddy is back from Iraq and participates fully in Michael's medical care. Michael doesn't complain even when he's not feeling his best. He smiles and actually comforts me with his belief that his doctors at Children's will find the cure for lupus.

Michael's first doctors, Dr. Howard in Hematology and Dr. T.P. Atkinson in Rheumatology were fabulous. They kept me informed, they answered ALL of my questions, and they comforted me with their kind and gentle words. They saw Michael through the initial stages of his diagnosis. When their specialties weren't what Michael needed anymore, we were referred to Dr. Askenazi (Nephrology). I was pleasantly surprised by how he and his staff embraced Michael. They are very "kid-oriented" and are genuinely happy to see him when he comes. Michael now sees Dr. Hein (ophthalmology) and Drs. Gomez and Maclin (Gastroenterology), too. They discovered that Michael's lupus is affecting other organs, so they are part of our treatment team. We truly feel that Michael's doctors, nurses, and the other staff members are partners in his care. Since his diagnosis, Michael has been using his God-given talent to raise money for Children's. He has sold several paintings to friends of my parents and others. Michael has selflessly donated the proceeds to Children's. He says it makes him feel good to do that and that it might help the doctors find a cure for something one of the children there is dealing with.