Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Struggles....Part 1- The Undiagnosed Chronic Stomach Condition

As single mothers we are constantly faced with struggles. Well as parents in general we are often faced with struggles. Some may include time management, meal prep, taking time off work for a sick child, balancing work and home life, making sure the house is cleaned and the laundry is done, etc. The list goes on and it is twice as hard a single parent doing it on your own.

I have been faced with a different kind of struggle, of course I go through the everyday struggle of making sure lunches and dinners are made, the laundry and housework is done, my son is bathed and ready for bed by a certain time, his homework is done, his toys are put away, my homework is done, we are on time for school in the morning, etc. But the struggle I am about to talk about is slightly different then those of our everyday lives.

My son suffers from an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition. It started in the summer of 2013 when I noticed that he was experiencing stomach pains and cramping, his stools were loose and were occurring more often throughout the day and his stomach was distended. On occasion he would vomit and it appeared food just wasn't agreeing with him. I took him to his paediatrician and after noticing a significant drop in weight the testing began. We started with a simple blood test. Ciliac (gluten intolerance), liver, kidneys, blood cells, etc. We were also told to take him off lactose and gluten for the time being until the results came back. The results came back negative and the symptoms continued to persist. We were then scheduled for a consultation with a GI specialist at Sick Kids Hospital. The appointment was scheduled in September and the date for the consult was for late October. We met with the GI specialist who said he sees things like this all the time and isn't overly concerned but because of my family history with bowel disease recommended I get the scopes done. A colonoscopy and endoscopy was scheduled for late November.
While we waited for the scopes I was still feeding him gluten free and lactose free foods and was definitely not going out to eat at all. Everything I was feeding him was organic and clean. Unfortunately that didn't seem to help much. His condition was worsening, his stomach was the size of an NBA sized basketball and the loose stools were happing every 1-3 hours. The vomiting was occurring more often as well.

We finally got the scopes done and after that we went away to Pennsylvania for a break from all the craziness of the healthcare system. We drove there for the weekend with a few friends and while we were there my son took a turn for the worst. He was constantly vomiting, loose stools, and his stomach was like nothing I have ever seen before. When we got back to Ontario I took him straight to Sick Kids and refused to leave until I got some answers as to why this was happening to my son.
WE spent the night and he was examined by a few different GI specialist. They could not find anything wrong with him.

His scopes came back negative and his GI doctor chalked his condition up to "Functional Abdominal Pain" He prescribed some ant-acid medication and sent us on our way.

As a single mother, I am dealing with this on my own. His dad is helpful but he is not constantly around to deal with this struggle. My family lives 30 minutes away so it is just me and it is hard. I am constantly monitoring what my son is eating, how much intake and output on a daily basis. I know, I am lucky it isn't a serious condition and count my blessings everyday that the scope came back negative but sometimes I wish it should something or we had some kind of answer so that I could know how to deal with it.

He has improved since the last visit at Sick Kids, he has not vomited at all and his loose stools are still persistent but not as frequent. He has gained 2lbs as well which is significant for his condition. But everyday is hard, on top of everything else us single parents need to worry about I have a bit more extra duties to make sure that my son is eating right and is functioning.

We still don't have an answer to what is causing his condition but my only assumption is to think that is is a food intolerance of sort. Unfortunately medical doctors can not test for food intolerance only allergies. We have another appointment booked in the summer for a second opinion at a different Sick Children's Hospital. Hopefully one day we will get some answers but for now I just continue to work hard to make sure he is thriving.

It is truly amazing how resilient children are, Ben has really accepted this condition and made it as part of his daily life. He does not let it bother him and has accepted that it is a part of who he is. He plays and laughs and enjoys life to the fullest.

I would love to hear some stories of other parents who are struggling with a child with a mild or severe condition and how it is affecting your daily life. Please comment below or let us know on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/SingleMomsFreshStart

- Staci