Hannah was just a baby when her parents first suspected something was wrong. She was 10 months old and just beginning to eat solid foods when they discovered blood in her diaper. For the next year or so, the family searched for answers as to what was causing her digestive issues. When she was two, she underwent a colonoscopy but it was inconclusive. Doctors believed she had chronic constipation and was recommended a laxative. But when Hannah turned five and was spending 20 minutes every hour in the bathroom, was up several times in the night, started to lose weight and not eat very much, Melissa believed something else was causing her daughter’s pain and misery and was determined to get to the bottom of it. They drove to the Alberta Children’s Hospital and when they arrived, were reassured by an emergency room triage nurse and pediatrician they had come to the right place.
A few days after being admitted, doctors ran a number of tests on Hannah and diagnosed her with Crohn’s Disease. Three quarters of her intestinal tract was swollen and “angry” and restricting her from absorbing nutrients properly and her body was trying to fight itself. Following IV-treatments of high dose steroids to reduce the inflammation, she was able to return home on medication. She currently takes immune suppressing maintenance medication to prevent her body from attacking itself.
Hannah is doing well – enjoying school and life at home with family – but she misses the hospital that she refers to as “a health hotel!” She loves coming back to the hospital where she feels brave and empowered and “like a million bucks” whenever she collects another bead for her Beads of Courage and where she has met doctors and nurses who see her for her, and not for her disease. For Melissa, she can’t say enough about the exceptional care they received at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. To her and her husband, it’s a place that treated them not like paranoid parents, but rather as members of their daughter’s care team.
Hannah’s family is so grateful they live within driving distance to a world-class hospital where they feel love as soon as they step foot in the building. Hannah is part of a research project within the GI clinic that is looking into the causes of Crohn’s Disease in children.
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