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?
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.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.