Lydia was 14 and excited to start high school. But after her first day of Grade 10, she came home feeling unwell. Turns out, she wouldn’t return to school for six and a half months. Lydia contracted Clostridium difficile (C.diff) – a bacterium that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. She was so weak, in pain and fatigued that she lost 42 pounds in seven weeks and could barely sit up. Her parents took turns sleeping on her bedroom floor at night to help her through her bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. After seven weeks, the bacterium was cleared from her system but she was still experiencing severe intestinal issues. She was referred to GI specialist, Dr. Jennifer deBruyn at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, who following a colonoscopy, confirmed Lydia was suffering from Crohn’s Disease. Lydia was admitted for eight days to begin IV treatments of Remicade, which reduces inflammation of her intestine. She was also fed through an IV to help get her weight back up. (Milkshakes specially ordered from the cafeteria also helped!) It wasn’t long before Lydia was back to her typical happy self again and she and her parents credit that to the exceptional care received at the hospital – both physically and emotionally. With Child Life specialists, she participated in the art therapy, pet therapy and Beads of Courage programs, which all helped restore her self-esteem. She also overcame her fear of needles and swallowing pills through classes offered by these Child Life specialists.
Lydia loves the hospital because it’s a special place where she and her family feel loved and supported. It’s also a one-stop shop for other care she receives including from a GI psychologist and GI nutritionist. She also took part in an Independence Clinic run through the Vi Riddell Children’s Pain and Rehab Centre and Crohn’s Camp where she met other teens like her. Today, Lydia returns to the hospital every seven weeks for Remicade treatments, but is back to enjoying life as a teenager.
Lydia and her family are so grateful for the care – both physical and emotional – they received following her diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease.
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