It’s The Waiting That Kills You


You guys know me. I have a super cruddy immune system. If it’s anywhere in my vicinity, I catch it. My kids, thank goodness, did not get my immune system. In fact, I think I’ve created a superhuman with a powerful immune system that kills everything in it’s path. That’s what has happened with my youngest son Parker.

A little over a week ago, my perfectly healthy 22-year-old woke up with a bunch of bruises all over his body. And his gums bled really bad when he brushed his teeth. The first day, he didn’t think much about it, except that there seemed to be big knots under the bruises. 

After L.A., I’d gone to Colorado to work on a couple of special projects. Parker texted me pics of the bruising, and I sent his butt to the doctor. The next morning we found out he had ZERO platelets in his blood. As in if he bumped into something hard or cut himself, he’d bleed out quickly. They rushed him to a hematologist/oncologist, who did a bone marrow biopsy and quickly admitted him to the hospital. That was last Thursday. 

They tried giving him platelets and steroids, but it only made his condition ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Pupura) worse. Basically, something (probably a virus) triggered his immune system and his spleen started eating all of the platelets, not just the broken ones. After four days of that treatment they switched to IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin). It basically takes the antibodies from a thousand different people, puts them in a bottle and is given to my kid through an IV. 

Crazy, but it seems to be working. His counts in a just a few days have jumped from 5000 to 64,000. A healthy person has about 350,000 – 450,000 platelets. Still they talked about removing his spleen, but they aren’t sure. It depends on if the IVIG continues to work. 

Yesterday, there were rumors that he was doing so well he might get to go home today. Then that dreaded kick in the head happened. Another test came back showing spots on the lungs. Our hope is that those are just swollen nodes, much like the rest of the ones on his body. They can’t be sure until they do another one. That particular scan had been of his stomach, which has the swollen nodes as well. They just happened to see the spots on his lungs. 

So now we wait for that, and the results of the bone marrow which still haven’t come in. The waiting sucks. It’s helped by visits from friends, and the wonderful Tweets, Facebook comments and personal emails. You guys have no idea how comforting it is to have so many people care about Parker and our family. We appreciate your kind words, prayers and thoughts. We’ve needed them. 

He’s a strong, incredibly fit kid. And the doctors think he’s going to be just fine. But it’s scary as hell and I hope it never happens to you. Really. My heart goes out to every parent with a sick kid. Whether is the cold and flu, or something more serious, I feel your pain. I get it. It’s scary as hell. 

They don’t know what set all this in motion, I wish I could tell you how to protect your kids from it. But now you know some of the symptoms and I hope this helps someone else. 




About Candace Havens

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous, Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her new venture is writing for the Blaze line of Harlequin. Those books include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. Her books have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

27 responses »

  1. Hi Candace, I totally understand what you are going through, only in role reversal; my Mum was diagnosed with TTP in 2006. Hers was likely triggered by Lupus. It’s frightening and you feel utterly helpless and it was the fact that it happened so quick and with little warning that floored us. Your son’s counts are an amazing increase for a few days. That was the thing we focussed on each day. I know it’s easier said than done to be strong and to this day my Mum maintains it was harder on us than her, but my thoughts are with you and your family x

  2. Thanks for keeping us all updated on what’s happening. I think of you guys randomly, and then, of course, of my kid nine hours away in Boston. I hope posting about it is a release valve for you, to take off some of that awful pressure of helplessness.

    Thoughts and prayers ongoing! Big hugs to all of you.

  3. ((HUGS)) Going through health issues with my dad. I agree, the waiting sucks. ((HUGS)) Sending you and your son positive energy and prayers. I hope they give you good news soon.

  4. My god, Candace, I’m so sorry to hear this. In my worst nightmares I can’t imagine. You are such a wonderful and special person, who does so much for others. All my thoughts and prayers are with you and your son.

  5. Hi Candace. Zara Kramer from Pandamoon Publishing here. I’m very sorry to hear what your son is going through. My husband, Allan, had ITP as a result of a severe allergic reaction to a shingles vaccine. His platelet count was literally 1, causing him to have a stroke. He was paralyzed on his right side, had bleeding in his brain, liver, back, and spleen and they told me to prepare for the worst. They gave him IVIG x 3 and we finally began to see his numbers go up…then down..then up… His docs were also concerned about his spleen and bone marrow, just as you mentioned about your son. It was an incredible roller coaster, and I can honestly say I’ve never been so frightened.

    Allan was in intensive care for five weeks, and it was three weeks before they told me he would pull through. He was in the hospital a total of 11 weeks, then we moved to a rehab hospital where we spent several months trying to get him as mobile as possible. I tell you all of this because I know how scary it is to walk the floors in an empty hospital at 4:00 am, scared out of your mind that your loved one won’t make it.

    But my story has an amazing happy ending, and I am sending lots of good thoughts your way, hoping you and your son will have your HEA, as we say in the publishing business. A year after my husband’s stroke, he was able to not only walk again, but dance with me in the moonlight. This past Friday, we celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary.

    All the best to you and your family, and if you need to talk with someone who really understands what you’re going through, I’ll be glad to send you my phone number and we can chat. My email address is

    Take care,

  6. Oh Candace, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I can completely sympathize. A few years ago, our then-10 yr old son got terribly sick from a kidney abnormality we never knew he had. Hospitalization, difficult tests, surgery…it’s so hard to see your child (no matter how old he is) go through all of that. It’s also maddening to have to wait to figure out what’s going on. We had a happy ending, and even though your circumstances are different (and more complicated), I’m praying that your outcome is a happy one as well.

    Hugs, and hang in there,

  7. Candace, you are one of the first writers I ever “met” when I first started writing a few years ago. We’ve chatted at DFW and I’ve taken your fabulous classes. I want you to know that I learned so much from you!
    In all those things, you were a beacon of kindness and positivity. You keep that going, cause your son will need that from you. I have a twenty-two year old son, too. And no matter how “grown up” they are…they always need mommy when they don’t feel good. Your family will be in our prayers and I just know it will turn out fine.
    Hang in there! :)

  8. *hugs and prayers to you Candace. I know someone whose son went through something very similar, a virus, platelets, etc. And it was terrifying for them as well, but they are okay. I’m praying for the same outcome for you as well.

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