Tag Archives: psychologist

NEAW 2017 – Living with the unknown

2017 marks our 5th National Eosinophil Awareness Week and yet, in many ways and for many reasons, this year may be one of our quietest yet. One of those reasons is that over the last 12 months, we have experienced a significant shift in the way that M’s doctors view his diagnosis and that change, along with the inevitable amount of growing up that is going on in our household at the moment, means that life has become about a lot more than just the label we’ve been handed to explain his medical condition. I’ll be honest, that transitioning medical opinion has been difficult to live with because it has challenged the very way we’ve coped with the last 11 years of our life and has demanded that we examine closely all of those decisions we’ve made believing them to be in the best interests of both our children and not just M. It has made us sit back and question whether we’ve been choosing and doing the right thing.

This seismic shift that we’ve been experiencing is not isolated to our experiences or even to our part of the world, but rather appears to be part of a nationwide change in the understanding, and even the diagnosis, of Eosinophilic disorders themselves. As a parent to a child with this diagnosis, the prospect of moving away from recognising Eosinophilic Disease as a genuine medical condition is a daunting one. Whatever title you want to attach to this little-recognised health issue, the hard facts are that those diagnosed with it are struggling and suffering on a daily basis and removing the validity of its name does not, and will not, remove the reality of the problem itself. The steps we have taken over the last 4 years since diagnosis have not always been easy ones, but without a shadow of a doubt, they have been ones that have seen much improved health for M at times when we have had to make what are unquestionably the toughest of choices.

Similarly, we are not the only family who has found itself moving away from the care provided by GOSH over the last couple of years – some have moved by choice, whilst others have had little or no say in the matter. In our case, our GOSH consultant and dietitian recommended we sought local input into his care because they had reached a point where they could find no explanation for why his body reacts as it does and felt that a fresh pair of eyes might be able to give us different insight into how to go on from here. The last 8 months have been extremely challenging for us all as our local consultant has made suggestions that we are not always 100% on board with and it has taken unbelievable courage on the part of all in our family to even agree to try new things that no-one really knows will succeed in the long run. The jury is still out on whether we are currently heading in the right direction with his care and truthfully only time will tell whether the decisions we are making this time round are the right ones or not.

Without any funded research into the complexities of gastrointestinal disorders, individuals like M will always be at the mercy of what can only be seen as an experimental approach, as diet, medicines and psychology are discussed and considered and tweaked to produce the best possible outcome on very much a “trial and error” basis. In our experience, we know that food plays a huge part in the way that M’s body behaves and the medicines he’s currently on appear to be doing their job of dampening down the body’s reactions to everything he eats. Likewise, we agree that there is a psychological element to it all and have had our concerns about the psychological impact of a chronic illness on his mental well-being. Sadly, where we have currently agreed to disagree with the medics is whether the psychology plays a bigger part than the physiology when it comes to M’s day-to-day health and responses. Yes, we know that stress can wreak havoc on the digestive system of just about everyone, but we will not be swayed in our belief that it is more than that for M. The hard facts of our 11 years with M show us that his health challenge is unquestionably a physical one and we will continue to fight for greater understanding of Eosinophilic disorders and how they affect everyday living for those diagnosed with them.

This week is about raising awareness of EGID and sharing our experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – of living with it. For us, and for the families we’ve got to know who live with it, EGID is a part of our lives that we have to accept and learn to come to terms with, no matter what discussion is being had in the medical world. It might not be clear whether EGID is in itself the final diagnosis, or if it is simply part and parcel of a larger problem that is, as yet, unknown, but it is our reality and it shapes every step that we take.

This year we have decided to continue our support of the amazing charity, Over The Wall and their camps. If you’re able to donate even a very small amount, please follow this link to my Virgin Money Giving Page where your donation will help more children living with chronic illness like G and M by giving them and their families a chance to enjoy some much-needed time away from it all.

Busy days

Now that Halloween and Bonfire night are behind us and Christmas is fast approaching, there’s finally a little time to look back and reflect on the start of the new academic year.  September seems like a lifetime ago and yet was a busy month with appointments right, left and centre that have had a lasting impact on decisions about M’s long-term care.  We had appointments with GOSH, a new community paediatrician, M’s OT and with CAMHS; and I needed to be the thread that linked them all to ensure that M remained at the centre of their focus and that all agencies were working together to provide the best support they could.

Courtesy of travaasa.com

Courtesy of travaasa.com

The OT’s review was everything we needed it to be and she has already started going into school once a week to work with M on his handwriting skills.  The clinical psychologist he meets with fortnightly through CAMHS is slowly building a relationship with him and gently pushing him to talk about how he feels about life with EGID and the frustrations he experiences.  As for the new community paediatrician, who was recommended by our local hospital, well, lets just say we won’t be rushing to meet with her again.  Her complete lack of understanding of his condition was glaringly evident as she suggested that regular toileting and a sticker chart were the answers to all our problems.  How I refrained from saying something very rude is nothing short of a miracle!

The most important of all these, for us, was our regular appointment at GOSH with the gastro team charged with M’s care.  The restricted diet and increased medications over the last 3 years have not brought about the results we’ve been aiming for and M continues to be symptomatic a lot of the time.  We have become increasingly concerned about his emotional well-being as he struggles with the impact of EGID and multiple food allergies on his daily routines and I was determined to come away from that appointment with a tangible plan in place.  Despite our best efforts with the challenging treatment suggested by the local consultant leading into the summer, our worst fears were realised when the registrar told us that M appeared to be impacted again and we would need another course of fairly heavy-duty laxatives to empty his bowel.

planningThat led into a lengthy discussion about where we’re headed and what the most sensible next steps for M’s care are.  Short-term plans are all well and good, but we now need a long-term care plan put in place.  He agreed that we can’t keep limping from one appointment to the next and promised to discuss M’s current situation with our consultant.  Medical terms such as “pellet study“, “elemental diet” and “manometry” were bandied around and I am glad that, thanks to the support from other FABED families, I have a reasonable layman’s understanding of what all these terms actually mean.

We left the hospital feeling that we were beginning to making some progress in dealing with the problems that continue to dog M’s every step and a short-term plan that would start to deal with the current impaction issue.  The longer term decisions would be discussed both internally and with us before anything was settled on for definite.  A follow-up appointment with the consultant herself was made and our step was just a teeny bit lighter as we felt our concerns were being heard and addressed.

Courtesy of abercrombierealestate.com

Courtesy of abercrombierealestate.com

However, since that day, over 7 weeks ago, I have spoken to GOSH at least once a week and almost daily over the past 10 days.  The improvements expected haven’t happened and so the decision has been made to admit M into the hospital for further testing.  We need to understand whether his bowel is working as it should or not as that will give us a clue as to the direction we need to head.  We have also agreed with his consultant that the diet and medicines just aren’t helping his hugely allergic colon and so have made the decision to remove all food from his diet and follow the elemental diet via NG-tube for a while.  This should give his bowel and body some much-needed time to rest and recuperate, something I believe it so desperately needs.