Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Tummy Mystery

Faithful readers may recall that my daughter missed the first day of school because she threw up.  Neatly summed up in one quick post, it may have seemed that was the end of the story.  Unfortunately, the story continued through the fall and winter and is still a part of our lives. 

She made it back to school for day two, but continued to complain of stomach aches and nausea.  In retrospect, her appetite had been decreasing for a few weeks, and it continued to worsen.  Her blood sugars seemed erratic, though whether from the unpredictable diet or its cause it was hard to tell. A doctor's visit showed she'd lost 2 pounds in the past year, not normal for a 9 year old.  The pediatrician thought it might be gastric reflux, from which she'd suffered badly as an infant.  He also tossed around the idea of food intolerances, strange infections, and diabetes' frequent partner in crime, celiac disease. 

A little acid reduction medicine took the edge off the discomfort while we scheduled an appointment with the gastroenterologist.  (Who my daughter, 8 months later, still calls the 'gastroencrinologist').  The doctor agreed it could be any of the things we'd discussed with the pediatrician.  She also spent some time talking with us about anxiety, and about something called 'functional belly pain,' which, as I understand it, involves chronic stomach aches with no identifiable cause. A full blood panel was ordered, as well as an increase in the acid reducer medicine and the addition of a medicine whose side effect was to increase appetite.  We reached the point where my daughter felt pretty good some days, though there were still others when dinner went half-eaten. 

The whole thing continued to be a diabetes nightmare.  We resorted to bolusing only when she was finished because she could not predict how much she would eat before her stomach began to hurt.  Even then, blood sugars continued to be unpredictable.

In early November, the bloodwork came back normal.  No celiac, no strange infections. Her blood sugar was an embarassing 3-oh-something, but par for the course for her when being stuck with a needle. At this point, my child was feeling somewhat better, though not perfect  She'd gained a couple of pounds.  We agreed with the gastroenterologist to wait it out through the end of the year to see how things went.  I remained fairly convinced that this had a definite, physiological cause.  It was increasingly disconcerting that we weren't learning what it was.

In the beginning of January, the symptoms began to worsen again.  A second opinion gave us no additional insight, and deciding we preferred the first doctor, we scheduled another appointment. The end result was the ordering of an endoscopy.  Through this, the doctor would see whether there was physical evidence of gastric reflux, or any other visible problem.  She would also take biopsies for lurking infections, celiac disease, and lactase enzymes. 

Five months after first realizing there was a problem, we hoped for answers. Tune in Thursday to find out what we learned.




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