Tag Archives: bowel

But that wasn’t part of the plan

Without doubt, December whirled past in something of a blur. As I’ve already posted, we had been waiting for an admission to GOSH since last July and naturally it came when we were least expecting it. This admission had been planned by M’s dedicated dietician, who was hugely concerned by the continuing lack of progress we were making when it came to successfully reintroducing food back into his diet and she was keen to challenge him within the hospital setting so that they could see exactly what we were experiencing at home. Our initial discussions all those months ago were in terms of weeks: a lengthy admission, perhaps up to 6 weeks, to fully understand how M’s bowel and bplanody respond when food is eaten; a daunting prospect when you have another child to love and nurture at home as well as a job to hold down.

Move forward 3 months and we reached our October outpatients appointment with no admission in sight and, due to the lack of long-term gastro beds at GOSH, no clear indication of when that elusive bed might eventually become available. Cue the recommendation of a radical rethink and a change of plan to a one week admission, followed by a series of further 1-week stays, scattered here and there throughout the year as and when there was a bed. The gastro team, keen to get him in before Christmas, felt this was our best chance of getting a bed any time soon and so we rolled with the punches and agreed to this amended plan, still not quite clear as to when the admission would actually happen. Over the following weeks, I spent valuable time fine-tuning the details with M’s dietician, agreeing what foods we would choose for challenges during our stay and discussing what the medical team were hoping to achieve through this process. The hardest part remained the lack of a long-term plan. The truth is that M’s continued problems with so many of the foods we’ve tried to introduce is baffling his doctors and until this admission was under our belt, they just didn’t know in which direction we’d be heading next.

By the time M was admitted on December 3rd, the plan had been tweaked again and unsurprisingly would continue to be so during the length of our stay. That one week admission suddenly became a 2-week stay and the 2 foods we had agreed to trial: potato and sweet potato, suddenly became 4: potato, egg, banana and salmon. I had already expressed some concerns about the plan to challenge him with 2 foods in a week and the increase to 4 over a 10-day period was now ringing some serious alarm bells in my head. Mike and I knew full well that the chances were that I would be bringing home a less-than-stable M just in time for Christmas and were resigned to rolling our sleeves up and spending the holidaysSmall-Changes working hard to bring him back to a healthy position ready for the new school term. We weren’t happy about this situation, but felt there was really no alternative; we had to give their plan a try in order to find some answers.

Despite those misgivings, the ones I had fully voiced to everyone and anyone who would listen from the minute I first met with M’s consultant and dietician when we arrived at GOSH and that I continued to express through every step of the following 10 harrowing days, we set off on this plan with the hope that we would find another safe food for him and perhaps even start to understand what has been troubling his gut for so many years.

What wasn’t part of the plan was the continued reluctance of the medical teams in hospital to listen when I told them M was beginning to show signs that all was not well with the food challenges and that he was reacting to the foods;

the plan didn’t anticipate the reality of M’s bowel being so unable to cope that it refused to work properly by the time we were 10 days into the 2-week admission;

and it definitely didn’t include 10 litres of Klean-prep (the worst bowel prep known to man) being continuously pumped into his tiny body over a 6-day period in an attempt to clear the resulting chronic impaction.

Nowhere in the master plan had I seen fair warning that, by day 14, I would be rendered utterly helpless and only able to sit, holding his hand and massaging his aching limbs, as M was left bent double from the cramps that were consistently hitting an 11 on the pain scale, where 10 was classed as the worst pain imaginable.


Somehow we limped through endless hours of pain and frustration and dashed hopes, and we survived. Somehow we talked and ranted and sobbed and challenged until finally the medics acknowledged that things had gone horribly wrong, and we survived. Somehow we managed to stand strong and stay strong and stand our ground and refused to compromise on what we knew was in M’s best interest, and we survived. Somehow we rode out the fiercest storms and learned to dance in the rain, and we survived. Somehow we found enough humour in each day to keep the smiles on our faces and to laugh the smallest of giggles, and we survived. Somehow we got through the unexpected and started to find our way back to our normality, and we survived.

But that wasn’t part of the plan.

“Out of difficulties grow miracles” – Jean de La Breyere

stormyThese last few months have been, well, interesting; and yes, that’s one of those euphemisms you use when you really don’t know how else to explain what’s been going on.  In many ways life was reduced to a whole new level of hell in our household; one that I’ve hesitated to discuss because of the nature of our experience.  Sometimes I need to delay publishing my posts to give us all time to process what we were dealing with before revealing it to the outside world, to allow the storm to pass and to let those memories start to fade.  Now, I’m – we’re – finally ready.

The reason for it all has been M’s ongoing issues with his bowel.  When the pellet study was done a year ago at our local hospital, the x-rays indicated that he had developed what is termed “mega-rectum” and “mega-colon“, caused in all likelihood by ongoing and previously undiagnosed impaction.  The priority at the time was to clear out his system and keep it clear, but unfortunately, for reasons still unknown, M has limped from one bout of constipation to another over the last 15 months.  The constant flow of problems has taken its toll on the whole family, but most noticeably on M, who is finding it tough to be positive when he feels that nothing is making a difference.

Our first meeting with our local consultant led to a long discussion about what, if anything, we could do to try and ease this problem and how we could help M’s bowel to recover.  He suggested a course of treatment that sounded extreme, but which he felt would encourage this troublesome body part to start to repair and would therefore hopefully alleviate some of the issues.  He proposed starting M on yet another laxative, called Bisacodyl, which would be administered by a daily suppository each evening.  This would cause an immediate response, thus reducing the likelihood of ongoing impaction and hopefully M’s bowel muscles would eventually recover some of their elasticity.  This treatment was not to be a long-term one and we would start doing it daily for just 4-5 weeks before being assessed in clinic again.

willowtreeOf all the medicines that M has endured over the last 3 years, this is, by far and away, the worst one we’ve had to put him through.  Day 1 was tricky as he was incredibly nervous and had no idea what to expect.  The subsequent week was hell and the nightly battles as I gave my boy this medicine accompanied by his incessant crying and pleading took an almighty toll on the family.  Job being done, a nightly cuddle was needed to reassure and comfort us all.  Due to unexpected problems during that first week, M experienced a heavy bleed and we were advised to take a week’s rest before restarting and finishing the course of treatment.  Unsurprisingly that was even more difficult to do, in fact almost impossible, but we persevered and carried on until our next appointment.

Mike and M had their hopes pinned on the medicine stopping then, I was slightly more sceptical and sadly I was proved right.  There had not been sufficient progress in that 5 week period for our new consultant to be satisfied and he wanted us to keep going until the start of the school holidays.  At that point, he asked us to double the dosage, administering the medicine both morning and evening until we flew to Florida.  I think that everybody’s heart sank at that point, although M cheerfully focused on his idea of a silver lining – he got to stop taking the Senakot, which was his least favourite medicine and that it would all stop as soon as we got to Florida.  How we got through those 8 weeks, I really don’t know and I hate knowing that we might be told to restart the medicine again in the future.  Worst of all, we won’t know whether this treatment has been of any help for a while yet, which is discouraging, but we will continue to keep our fingers crossed and hope that out of that difficult time, we really will start to see small miracles grow.


A week is a long time

As I watched my active 7 year-old today, I realised that not many people would believe that 2 weeks ago he was in hospital going through 3 days of intensive bowel preparation, an anaesthetic, a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.  This child, who is currently refusing to give in to his tiredness and go to sleep, has been running around like a wild thing, laughing and having fun.  This time 2 weeks ago, he was quiet, in pain and reluctantly resigned to his fate.

A week ago, much to the surprise of friends and colleagues, despite having spent a week in GOSH, M was back at school as if nothing had happened.  He reluctantly agreed to my ruling of no PE for the week, but I couldn’t stop him running around the playground with his friends trying to catch up on his missed week of fun.  A week ago, we pulled him off the trampoline at home with a suggestion that bouncing around was perhaps not the most sensible thing after having investigative procedures on his GI tract – he has bounced back to full health, almost literally!

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That Thursday was a long day for us all.  Mike had travelled to London on the Wednesday to spend time with M and help distract him from all that was planned.  As well as the extensive bowel prep, M had had a cannula put into his left hand on Wednesday afternoon and had once again impressed the nurses with his stoicism as he watched them put the needle in without shedding a tear.  He laughed and joked with them as they did it and even discussed whether they would need to put a second one in his other hand.

Mike arrived back on Kingfisher ward around 8am Thursday, bringing with him a much-needed croissant and vanilla latte for my breakfast.  M had been without food for 24 hours by this point and, whilst he accepted that I had to eat for my health, he didn’t want to see Mike eating food.  We sat with a nervous M and played endless rounds of Top Trumps as we waited for the nurses to come and prepare him for the scopes.  He eventually changed into a hospital gown and disappeared off to the Wii for one more game of Lego Batman with Mike to relieve the tension.

Finally, the nurse and consultant arrived to meet us and summon M to the investigation suite.  We took Cat in with him, but M was determined to prove how brave he was and asked me to take Cat back to his bed with me.  We kissed him good luck, watched as the anaesthetist put the “magic milk” into his cannula, heard him count unsuccessfully to 10 and then beat a hasty retreat back to his cubicle to wait for it all to be over.

Poor Cat, all ready for surgery, but relegated to wait instead

Poor Cat, all ready for surgery, but relegated to wait instead

Nearly an hour and a half later, and this time prepared to be waiting beyond the 45 minutes the hospital staff had said, the consultant appeared to talk through what he had seen during the procedure.  The best news was that the scopes looked much better than last time and whilst there were still obvious areas of inflammation, the damage had been reduced and consequently M bled considerably less than previously.  There are signs of some problems in his upper GI tract, but we need to wait for the biopsies to come back from the laboratory to see what they show.  Everything supports the EGID diagnosis and shows that the medicine and restricted diet are making a significant difference to his insides and we should continue to persevere with them.

Even better, M’s reaction to the anaesthetic was significantly better than the previous times and whilst there were some unexpected concerns with low blood pressure and pulse rate – he really is my son as I suffer the same problems – the hallucinogenic reaction was relatively mild and within 3 hours of coming round from the sedation, he was back playing the Wii with Mike., something we had never even imagined would be possible.

So now we’re on to our next wait until the results are returned and every week between now and our follow-up appointment is going to be an extremely long time.