My Son’s 2-year Sickle Cell Review Went Well, With a Slight Hiccup

A pediatric health review is upbeat for columnist Somi Igbene's toddler

Somi Igbene, PhD avatar

by Somi Igbene, PhD |

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I almost can’t believe my son is 2 years old already! It doesn’t help that every time I take him out, acquaintances, and even some friends, scream in disbelief when they see him — they still expect to see a sitting baby, not a running toddler.

I’m thankful he’s been growing well and meeting his developmental milestones. He’s been having regular sickle cell disease-related health reviews since birth. They were happening every three months, but now that he’s 2, reviews will occur twice a year. His other reviews typically have entailed blood tests and chats with his pediatrician, but this one was slightly different.

Tests to monitor sickle cell in a toddler

When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse checked our temperatures and measured his weight, height, and oxygen saturation levels. The oxygen saturation test measures how much oxygen the hemoglobin in his blood carries, by placing a painless sensor on his fingertip. Normal blood oxygen saturation levels are 95%-100% percent, and his measured 99%, which was excellent!

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He would have had a blood test to check his blood count, hemoglobin, and nutrient levels, but his doctor said another one wasn’t necessary because his blood was drawn a few weeks before his review. His previous test was normal.

The final part of the review was the vascular ultrasound test, or transcranial Doppler scan, which is done to examine the blood vessels in the head, since people with sickle cell disease have a high risk of stroke. It is recommended that children with sickle cell disease start having regular scans from the age of 24 months and continue every six to 12 months during early childhood.

To perform the scan, a nurse puts a clear, water-soluble gel around the head close to his ears, and then slides the ultrasound probe over the area. This part of the review did not go well. He didn’t like the temperature of the gel or that a strange device was moving around his head. He refused to sit still and became very upset.

The nurse had a few unsuccessful attempts to get a reading and said we’d probably need to leave it until his three-year review. She did reassure me that it was typical for children his age to behave that way and that she usually never gets useable results until the three- or four-year scan.

Despite this, his doctor feels it is vital for him to have another one done soon, so we will be trying again within the next few months.

So far, so good

After the failed Doppler scan, I chatted with his doctor about my son’s current health and future care plans. The doctor told me he felt my son was doing well, but also informed me about medications he could be offered. I am happy with his health and his progress so far, so I plan to keep doing what’s working until a change is necessary.

Overall, his two-year review went well. I didn’t enjoy watching him get upset over the Doppler scan, and I will admit that I’m not looking forward to the next one, but these are necessary evils, so I will persevere.


Note: Sickle Cell Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Disease News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.

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