As you all know by now, my kids LOVE talking about poop. They’re in that phase where anything poop related is hilarious and can set them off on a laughing spree. However, the poop topic can be a bit of a taboo one as they get older and it was definitely not one my friends and I engage in, that’s for sure!
Last week I attended an event hosted by AbbVie Canada led by Dr. Walters, Co-Director of the SickKids’ Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Diseases program in Toronto. While the topic of conversation was pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), I also left with sound advice on when to see a physician and how to talk to your child about chronic conditions. We also had a chance to hear Kate Murray, founder of Robbie’s Rainbow, share her experiences raising a child with IBD, including the challenges she has faced and how she and her son Robbie have overcome them. It was truly shocking to learn that Canada has the highest percentage of diagnosed pediatric IBD rates in the world and that number of IBD diagnoses amongst kids aged 10+ in Canada has doubled since 1995.
Disclosure : I received information for this post while attending an event hosted by AbbVie Canada, but as always, opinions are totally mine!
Baby Boy has been complaining of tummy issues for a good while now and they tend to just turn up sporadically. I’ve always attributed it to something he may have eaten as he tends to have quite a few bowel movements a day. Well, he used to anyways. Now that he’s in school (and having a rough time), he isn’t going to the potty at all during the day. Both kids are saving their excretions for when they’re at home. Not very healthy – I KNOW!
In our case, it’s just a small tummy ache once in a while but in Robbie’s case, what was initially thought of as a common illness led to weight loss, vomiting and other flu like symptoms. He was in a lot of pain until he was properly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 6. Hearing their struggles was really difficult for me as a parent and was a wake up call to pay attention to the signs when it comes to our kids’ complaints. While some parents run to the doctor for every little scrape, I’m the opposite. I tend to ignore things until they’re at a very dire stage. There’s a happy middle ground and that’s the point where I would like to be, which is why I’m sharing a couple tips I learned.
When to See a Physician (for subtle concerns)
According to Dr. Walters, you should be monitoring the complaints and trying to determine if there’s a pattern (could it be diet, weather, exhaustion related?). He also mentioned that parents should go with their gut. If you believe your child needs to see a doctor, then take them into their pediatrician or family doctor. I know this is a hard one for me and I will be paying closer attention to the complaints and their frequency.
How to Prep for a Visit to the Doctor
This is an important one and one I fail at TERRIBLY. Robbie’s mom and Dr. Walters both HIGHLY recommended that we should all be keeping a journal. Presenting your doctor with a detailed account of the symptoms, frequency of reactions and time log will not only arm them with better insight but will also help them diagnose the situation quicker and provide you with the best recommendations.
Having a talk with your child, prior to the visit, is also a good idea. Ensuring that they know why you’re taking them to visit the doctor and what to expect during the visit will help put the kids at ease.
I know I get a bit flustered during our visits to the family doctor because we usually only have 10-15 minutes to get everything in and we’re usually running late or one kid is having a meltdown at the sight of a doctor, so having a written list will definitely help us. I can barely remember what we had for dinner the night before, let alone what each of the 20+ daily whines were about!
How to Advocate for Your Child
As a parent, I feel like my entire life revolves around advocating for my children, but I am also quick to dismiss some of their complaints, especially those from Little Monkey, who can be a bit of a drama queen. Hearing the challenges faced by Kate, Robbie’s mom, as she did her best to ensure that Robbie was able to attend school and enjoy all the things kids like to do (think birthday parties, school lunches and even something as everyday as taking a test). She not only managed to convince the school to make a few simple and practical changes but she also fought hard so that Robbie was able to connect with his friends and make them understand that he was no longer sick after his treatment.
Pediatric IBD isn’t an easy condition but Kate and Robbie have created Robbies Rainbow, a registered charity with a sole focus on childhood IBD. Their charity provides access to medical treatments, procedures and care not covered by private or public health plans and build educational resources for IBD children and their families.
Another thing mentioned by Dr. Walters was that, if as parents we keep going back to our doctors with the same issues and it’s falling on deaf ears, it might be time to get a second opinion. Mind you, you should do this after a couple tries and asking your doctor why they don’t think the issue is of concern.
Pediatric IBD is definitely not a condition I was aware of and something I will pay closer attention to when it comes to Baby Boy but there are so many other chronic conditions out there and only a doctor can properly diagnose the conditions. As parents our role is to pay attention to the abnormal signs and make the call to see a doctor. Just remember to go in armed with your journal!