This is the fourth and final installment in my grandmother's account of my father's childhood with hemophilia. I started transcribing her story back in 2008, but for some reason, I never finished this project.
From the archives:
A Treasure Unearthed
Finally, finally, finally, here is the rest of Granny's written recollection. Jim, my father, has just survived a horrific head injury, which necessitated a trip to San Antonio for dangerous surgery...
After five days we went home but were told he was a true hemophiliac. He told us the history of the mother being the carrier, etc., and that the odds were against us. Most lived to be 7 years old, some 13 years of age, but they were experimenting and new things in the medical field accomplished all the time. We asked him about sending Jim to school as we knew we would be faced with the problem in a couple of years. He said to treat him as a normal child as much as posible and of course send him to school. He said unless we did, he would have a mental problem and perhaps I would, too. We had many restless days and finally came time to remove the bandages. They had used an elastic adhesive (elastoplast) and had not shaved his head, so it had to be cut loose with a razor blade. Finally all was removed and the would apparently was healed. Then our family doctor told me that Jim was a true hemophiliac and that he could never participate in any athletic games with other children, that he should never ride a tricycle or bicycle as other boys would do, or play football, baseball, or any such.
I had always dreamed of the day when I would have a boy that could run, play, have blue jeans with the knees worn out and dirty, and now I would have a son who could never do these things, so I must find something else. We would all love him with all that was within us. Our daughters were very dear and understanding. Our older daughter graduated from high school the year before Jim started to school and she then went to work as a bookkeeper and was able to help us and we shall always be indebted to her as she went beyond her responsibility to help us. Our younger daughter also worked on weekends and contributed to us as we were constantly drained of finances, but we were happy and firm believers in prayer and faith in God. Too many incidents happened that I cannot remember: bleeding from bladder, running and falling on floor, bruised and swollen areas on shins and elbows, all requiring blood.
When he was 7 years old, he started to school and had a few minor injuries, but the last day of school, someone ran into him and knocked out a loose front tooth. Days in the hospital followed with 10 transfusions to stop the bleeding. When he was in the fourth or fifth grade, he stumbled over a wire at school and hurt his left knee. Of course, it swelled and was very painful and the usual treatment. Because of pain his leg became bent at about a 45-degree angle. The doctor put him in traction for six weeks to straighten it, but with no success. So he said, "Mrs. McCoy, he will just have to be that way." But I told him it would be straight again if I had to do it myself some way. He then sent us to an orthopedic doctor in Corpus Christi. He put it in a cast from hip to ankle. Each week we made a trip to Corpus 90 miles and the doctor would cut a wedge out of the cast over the cap of the knee then press on it with his hands until Jimmie could not take it anymore. Then he would recast it. The next week the same, and finally after one year, his leg was straight, but he had to wear a long leg brace from hip through heel of his shoe. He was told he was always to wear this, but in seven years, he started driving the car and soon was able to walk without the brace. Needless, he had many painful experiences, but more determination and enthusiasm than any average person—one who loved life and one that was loved by the whole city.
His junior year in high school he had a backlash or jerk of head at school, and that night he became confused and finally had convulsions—bit his tongue, etc.—then went into a coma. He had hemorrhaged in his head behind his right ear plus the severe bleeding of the mouth from tongue. More blood, plasma, and then we were told of "antihemophiliac plasma" and it worked great on him. He spent three weeks in hospital but returned to school. He was the state treasurer of the library club and was later inducted into Honor Society. He graduated from high school and was Cum Laude. He has a God-given talent to sing and had been a member of a quartet for several years even before high school. He won several first place medals for solos as well as a quartet and also the music award at graduation. He also sang and directed the song "You'll Never Walk Alone," and many tears of joy were shed when he walked across to receive his diploma.
Then came college. He got a music scholarship to Southwest (Texas State) University in San Marcos, and after two years married a most wonderful, godly, sympathetic and patient girl. He went on and graduated with her companionship and care through other painful injuries.
That's where Granny's journal ends. Not long before my mother died, I found an old legal pad that appears to be the beginning of my father's memoirs. While his account is also unfinished, it does describe some of his experiences in adulthood. Stay tuned...