Meet Dominik (Dom) Culver. He suffers from three rare diseases and requires plasma-based therapies to lead a healthy life. This is his story as shared by his mother, Kim Culver:
“Life’s realities; Dom has made such huge improvements and we are so grateful! When I look at him everyday I am amazed at where he is at! There was a time when I didn’t think he ever had a chance to live a happy fulfilled life. From the outside someone that doesn’t know his history would never guess what he has been through. Today in football practice he was chosen to go through the Marines workout. The coaches chose the kids they thought were physically fit enough to do this workout. It was a super tough workout and I was so amazed as I watched and thought back on how far Dom has come.
Dom is tough…he works hard to play sports, keep his grades up, spend quality family time and have a social life. What no one sees is that several times a week during sports seasons he is inserting an IV in his own arm and pushing meds so he CAN play. This by itself wouldn’t be half bad, but he also has to be pulled away from his team before games for 10-15 minutes to do this. No one sees him sitting in the car before a practice [wiping] his nose to stop bleeding so he will get in the locker room on time, only to have the other nostril start bleeding. And when it finally stops go into the locker room and deal with the good natured razzing for being late. No one sees the struggle of Dom trying to figure out the best way to explain his medical issues to his coach. He doesn’t want the coach to be so uncomfortable that he never gets play time, but he also doesn’t want the coach to play him just because he knows he has given himself IV meds so he can play.
No one sees him and mom trying to work out a schedule for his 3 hour infusion so that it doesn’t interfere. This infusion leaves large bumps on his stomach for 24 hrs or so and he doesn’t want anyone to see them because he doesn’t want to explain…so we have to schedule it on a day that he won’t be taking off his shirt or won’t be in the locker room. No one sees him hiding the pump that is delivering these meds when Mom comes around with the camera. And no one sees Mom crying because his brother and his friends just left him in the house to finish his infusion while they went to play basketball. I have watched him go to school when he is extremely sick because he can’t miss another day or there is a big test. There are so many “extra” struggles for people with any sort of health challenge.
We have now lived in a “new” place for over a year and there are still not a lot of people that know what it is like for Dom, or that he even has any medical issues. Most of his very good friends only have a vague idea. And…that’s ok… Because that’s how he prefers it. Dom knows where he has been and he knows how hard he has worked to get to where he is now. We are so proud of him and so thankful that God has chosen to bless him with a life he loves!! This is the life of an “invisible illness”.