It is one of those things that makes a mother feel horribly guilty because I didn’t pick up the early signs. She had stomachaches and was tired, but I chalked it up to a stressful school year. She was in the fourth grade and it felt like she was just having trouble with school…
…So it wasn’t until we actually went to the doctor for her annual physical that he said, “Oh my goodness.” And then I started to put the pieces together. She had lost a lot of weight as a fourth grader. But I didn’t pick these things up until he raised all the red flags and said, “Something’s not right.” He noticed the weight loss. What we noticed at home was a decrease in appetite and complaining more about stomachaches and fatigue and not wanting to go to school. So we thought all of this had to do with not wanting to go to school and not that something was wrong with her physically.
He looked terrible
One day we were playing ping pong and I recognized that he couldn’t lift the paddle and he looked terrible. I said, “We have to do something to solve this. If you can’t play ping pong, how are you going to play little league? How are you going to go to school?” The other thing, beside that one incident, was that we saw that he was becoming house bound on the weekends; he was really afraid to leave the house because he’d have to go to the bathroom. This was fairly embarrassing for him, although he managed to hide it so people didn’t see. But he really struggled playing little league baseball, for instance, or going to school or to a friend’s house. He was doing less and less and less.
Could not identify the cause of the pain
The first signs of my son’s IBD were actually a little hard to detect. He had told us that he had some rectal bleeding, but it was minimal, and he had told us that he was experiencing some pain around his rectum. As a result, we sought the advice of our pediatrician, who recommended a colonoscopy. As it turns out, it was only a sigmoidoscopy, so nothing was found. In fact, as that spring continued, things became even more puzzling because our son continued to complain of rectal pain, but we could not determine what the problem was. We ended up in an emergency room triage clinic one day, and ended up making several visits to the pediatrician, but neither could identify the cause of the pain. It was a little bit difficult for our child, because it was hard for his family and physicians to take him seriously when they were not able to identify the cause of the pain.
When he was in fifth grade he almost seemed to stop eating. If he had been a girl we would have thought he was anorexic or bulimic. Closer to when we were getting him tested he would sometimes eat and then throw up. That actually happened pretty regularly for a couple months. And the other thing was that he was so tired by the end of the day that he could barely get off the couch. So we would get home at five or something and make dinner, and he would sort of be on the couch maybe watching TV or doing something like that, but he had zero energy. We were always fighting with him to eat. I guess the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he even threw up pizza.