Mary Bridge is a home away from home for the Grieve family
By Kortney Scroger
Logan Grieve is a typical 11-year-old boy. He loves reading, collecting toy cars and playing with Legos — particularly of the Star Wars variety.
What makes Logan different than most kids his age is that he has a rare disorder. He’s been in and out of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center for the last five years.
“I looked at his charts and did the math,” says his mom, Shelly Grieve. “He’s had about 39 visits to the infusion clinic and 31 procedures in the hospital, adding up to about 70 visits to Mary Bridge. For a long time, we were coming once a week."
Logan's relationship with Mary Bridge began when he visited a local clinic for his six-year wellness check. His mom noticed some bruising on his legs. Her first instinct was to brush it off — the signs of an adventurous little boy — but something told her to bring it to the attention of the medical staff.
“After they saw his bruising, they immediately started asking questions and running tests,” Grieve says. “They came in and started talking to me about his platelet number. I had no idea what platelets were.”
Logan was transferred to Mary Bridge. In September 2012, he was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disorder that causes his immune system to mistakenly attacks his platelets, causing symptoms such as excessive bruising and bleeding. With low platelets, skin and blood can be so thin that simply wearing jeans can cause bruises or tags on the insides of shirts can cause a rash.
“In the morning his body would look fine,” Grieve says. “By late morning his body could be covered in bruises.”
For children, ITP typically resolves on its own without treatment, but Logan's case is rare and chronic. To treat Logan’s form of ITP, doctors have tried many different pills, shots, steroids, IVs and even a form of chemotherapy. His most recent procedure was the removal of his spleen last August.
“It is so hard to see your kid, who feels fine, not be able to go out and play,” Grieve explains. "It’s stopping him from being a kid, having a childhood.”
For the last five years, ITP has dictated what Logan can and cannot do. At such a young age, Logan has been through a lot of poking and prodding and hospital and clinic visits (sometimes visiting Mary Bridge four times a week). This constant unknown led to the decision to homeschool Logan and his five-year-old sister, Juliet.
“ITP is all in the numbers,” Grieve says. “If his platelet count is normal, he can ride his bike that day. If the platelet count is another number, he may be able to play in the yard but not on his bike. Some days he’s confined to the house. Logan has gone through this with so much grace, he’s adjusted and found things to love.”
Mary Bridge has become a home away from home for Logan — so familiar that he has a favorite plant in the rose garden (the dinosaur kale). When asked about his favorite part of Mary Bridge, he does not hesitate.
“The people,” he says. “We see some of them more than we do people back home.”
The night before his most recent surgery, Logan was in tears when he realized that he wouldn't need to come to Mary Bridge anymore — and continue to see all of the doctors and nurses he’s become so close to — if the surgery was successful.
And it’s not just Logan’s medical team that supports him and his family. The Grieves rely on multiple programs and services to help make the hospital experience comfortable and worry-free, many of which are supported by donors, such as Child Life Services and financial assistance.
Child Life has been a huge part of Logan’s journey, especially when it comes to making him feel comfortable, his mom says.
“They’ve just embraced knowing our family,” she says. “So if I have to bring Juliet to a doctor's appointment for Logan, then they just swoop in and keep her busy while I'm trying to listen to what the doctor is needing me to know about Logan's health. And it gives us peace of mind as parents and just to take our mind off of what's been going on.”
Child Life Specialist Kristen Bishop has been with the Grieve family since Logan’s diagnosis and has played a large part in comforting the family during hospital visits.
“We spend a lot of time with our patients, a lot of time getting to know their brothers and sisters and their parents and their grandparents,” Bishop says. “Everyone’s needs are different. It’s important to us to provide care for the entire family.”
For Logan’s 11th birthday he asked friends and family to donate to Child Life Services in lieu of gifts. He raised more than $1,000. He also raised money by running a lemonade stand during the summer.
“It is important to show my kids that we can afford all of this because people make generous contributions,” Grieve says. “That’s why we encourage Logan and Juliet to give back.”
Logan’s journey is far from over. His condition is rare and the search for a solution continues. Mary Bridge may always be a part of Logan’s childhood. He and his family are extremely grateful for the comforts provided by Mary Bridge, and are hopeful for a future with fewer visits and the chance for Logan to be a carefree kid again.
“We are hoping for a solution that will allow him to get his childhood back so he can see a lot more than just the inside of a hospital,” his mom says.
You can support kids like Logan by making a donation to the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation.
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