Tag Archives: Social media

Dear BBC Controller

Sometimes something happens that leaves me lost for words.

Having heard the furore on Facebook from fellow EGID parents, Mike and I sat down last night to watch Tuesday’s episode of “Holby City” on the I-player.  To say that I was speechless as the drama unfolded would be an under-statement; to say that by the end I was fuming would be a gross denial of the feelings that it had caused.  My hackles started to rise from the moment we were introduced to the character later described acerbically as “Mr Allergies” and we both sat in stunned disbelief as the storyline ended with everything being cured by a rapid diagnosis and a special injection.

For those of you who aren’t Holby City fans, or who didn’t have the misfortune to catch it when it aired on Tuesday night, let me give you a quick precis.  A young man, portrayed from the start as little more than a time-waster and with a list of allergies as long as your arm, is admitted into the hospital.  Nobody can pinpoint what’s wrong, but the doctor in charge of his care recognises that his symptoms fit with EGID.  She performs that little-known-as-highly-reliable diagnosing tool of an ultrasound (!) to rule out Crohns disease and Diverticulitis and comes to the conclusion that it could possibly be EGID, but is more likely to be a mental health issue due to him craving being a “rare” individual and the attention that obviously affords him.  On the basis of all this, and having given him leaflets about planning his own funeral, she tells him it’s a previously unidentified trapped nerve, gives him an injection and within minutes he’s up on his feet, completely cured and feeling better than he has in years.

If only M’s life were that simple.  If only a simple injection could take away the pain and acute discomfort that M struggles with on a daily basis.  If only I could tell him that the magic wand we both are longing for has finally appeared and all his hurt and frustration and despair will be gone, just like that.  If only it was likely that since he was small, my distraught 8 year-old has been craving nothing more than extra attention by being a medical rarity.  If only I’d known that it was all in his mind, or, more likely, all in mine as I’ve known from babyhood that there was something very wrong.

It has taken 7 years for us to reach a diagnosis, bypassing multiple doctors who thought it nothing more than a bad case of toddler diarrhoea and a somewhat neurotic mother.  Even though we now know his chronic illness by name, lack of funding and research means that we still don’t have any answers and every step taken with GOSH is a step of faith that something will help at some point. Every day I meet with people who have no idea what EGID is and the impact it can have on the family as a whole, let alone on my 8 year old himself.  Most of the medical staff we see have never heard of the illness, do not understand the subtle nuances of this hidden disease and have no idea how much we all need their help.  And we’re not on our own.  There are over 300 other families who look to FABED for support and share the highs and lows of this illness with each other, as we can understand like no outsider can; and that’s just in the UK.

 I’ve done my bit:

I’ve made my complaint known – via Twitter, via Facebook and via the BBC online complaints system – and I’ve written this blog.  BUT the damage is done.  Nothing is going to be able to take away their careless portrayal of EGID to the 5 million who watched Holby City on Tuesday night.  I would love to meet the researchers and writer for Tuesday’s episode to understand who they spoke to and where their information was sourced.  The daily battle that M and other EGID children struggle with bears no ressemblance to what was shown, but sadly that is the viewpoint the public will now hold.  I would love for them to spend time living life in the shoes of an EGID family, even for a day, so they could experience a fraction of the living hell that that life can be at times.  To comprehend the heartbreaking decisions we EGID parents have to make and the challenges of restricted foods, bowel problems, chronic pain and a multitude of daily medicines our babies deal with.  This type of inaccurate and frankly irresponsible representation of a serious illness is not what I associate with the BBC and it is left to parents like me, who have enough daily battles to fight, to raise awareness and voice our concerns.

You can do your bit too:  Just share this blog.  Make your family; friends; colleagues; strangers in the street aware of it and the rare illness that affects children like M and families like mine.  I don’t mind how you do it – RT it; link it to your Facebook page; send it out to your email address list; print it out and pin on noticeboards around your town; or get it emblazoned across the sky – but please do it and help us get our voice heard.

The psychiatrist’s couch

The thing about blogging is that, as well as sharing our experiences with others and maybe helping those who are facing similar journeys, it has become a form of cheap therapy for me.  I can pour my heart out into my words, delete those that needed to be said, but not shared and publish the rest for the world to see and comment on.  For those of you who know me well, you will understand that I’m not very good at sharing when I’m struggling with life, even to my nearest and dearest, and yet I can express my emotions through a few deft strokes on the keyboard almost without pause.

blogging

My Mum, who I know will be reading this and rolling her eyes (and yes, the phone-call will come later), frequently says she doesn’t understand the need to share everything with the world at large which so many of us do these days, be it through blogging or social media such as Facebook or Twitter.  Is there an easy or obvious answer to that why?  I can’t comment on why others share the most intimate details of their mundane lives, but I know why I do it.  I have a story to tell and life experiences to share.  When I started my blog I couldn’t anticipate how many people would read and follow my musings, but as I approach the 2,000th view of my blog, I am flattered that people have read something that has resonated with them.  I know that some posts will be far more therapeutic for me than interesting for you, my reader, and I thank you that you’re prepared to bear with me and keep on reading.

The rest of today’s post is very much in that vein as life with M is proving difficult right now and I need to lie down and share from the psychiatrist’s couch.

Couch

Since M’s relapse back in April, we have been waiting for his system to settle and for things to improve and return us to where we had been at the start of the year.  Our GOSH appointment in May had reassured us that his gut would repair and they spoke positively about the possibility of trialling one of his forbidden foods and even reducing his medication over the next 6 months.

Unfortunately, life hasn’t turned out that way and instead we are caught in a downward spiral and seem to be sinking fast.  Our weekend at Legoland was a real step back to where we had been and much nearer the beginning of our journey then we were happy to be. As well as the return of multiple soiling accidents with chronic diarrhoea, M has suffered from stomach cramps, overwhelming tiredness, fluctuating appetite and blood in his stools.  He is obviously struggling with his emotions and frustrations and is just generally out-of-sorts.

My conversation with our ever-wonderful dietician last week confirmed my inclination to speak to M’s gastro team as we really need to get him back on track.  I was worried that we would be asked to remove something further from his already restricted diet, but the registrar told me that that wasn’t the way forward right now.  Instead, we are introducing another medicine into the mix to try and suppress the reactions he’s experiencing and are being sent to our local hospital for an abdominal x-ray.

There are no easy answers to this problem for the time being.  We don’t know why his small body has  gone back into hyper-drive in response to the food allergies and we are feeling helpless in our inability to regain some semblance of control.  If the x-ray is clear, which we’re expecting it to be, then the next logical step is another set of scopes, but that isn’t an easy decision to make because of M’s problems with anaesthetic.  We also know that we still haven’t removed the possibility of moving M to the elemental diet from the table either and that seems like a daunting prospect.

The one thing I have learned from the wonderful families we met through FABED is that we’re not on our own and that however hard the next step might seem to us, there will be somebody else out there who has walked that path before us and will hold our hands along the way.

tea

What’s more, a cup of tea or coffee and a chance to escape the EGID world, even for half an hour, is great therapy too.