Ulcerative Colitis: A mother's perspective

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

Lou Ann has become a dear friend and her daughter Monica went to school with my husband. Monica had been dealing with ulcerative colitis for a very long time until a recent surgery resolved her symptoms. This is a portion of a conversation I had with Lou Ann on what it was like to see her daughter deal with such a debilitating illness.

Jen: When was your daughter diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease?   How long has she been dealing with it?   Did you spend a lot of time researching...did that help?

Lou Ann: Monica was diagnosed with UC when she was 17 years old.   She dealt with it off and on for another 17 years.   There were several different  instances when she had  flare- ups, but increasing her medicine always seemed to help.   However, during the last year and a half before she had the final surgery, her symptoms were very severe and she was in  pain almost all the time.

Jen:   What is the hardest part, as a mother, to watch your daughter deal with IBD?

Lou Ann: She would try  to  be strong and act like nothing was wrong because  she did not want me to worry.   Most of the time, she would  want to protect me from seeing her hurt.   That was hard, but being 7 hours away from her was the hardest.

Jen: Has your daughter required extra help from you due to her illness?

Lou Ann: After the first surgery I helped Monica by staying with her the entire time that she was in the hospital (10 days)  and then for another month after she was dismissed.   She had to have someone with her at all times because  the pain had to be controlled; she had several different tubes all over her body and was extremely sick to her stomach.   I also stayed with her in the hospital after her second surgery (6 days) and for 12 days after we went home from that one.

Jen:   Has your relationship changed in any way since she has had IBD?

Lou Ann:

I feel that we are extremely close and I am very thankful for that.   She has always trusted me, but I think going through all of this has made us even closer.

Jen:   What has gotten you through your worry over your daughter's illness?

Lou Ann: Monica, Matt (Monica's brother) and I are very close to the Lord.   Monica's dad Joe was too.     We are a close knit family and it was hard seeing her suffer and go through all of this.   The only thing that got us through it was our faith in God and lots and lots of prayers.   We all prayed for Monica. There were people praying all over the United States for her and we won't know how many until we get to heaven

Jen:   Anything you would say to a parent to who may  have just heard her child was diagnosed with IBD?

Lou Ann: I would certainly recommend seeing a specialist.   This is a very serious disease and  needs to be monitored and treated by the best of the best!

Stay tuned next month as Lou Ann and I talk about Monica's dietary struggles both before and after surgery.