Pediatric Acupuncture Phoenixville PA
Kids First Chestnut Hill
Pediatrics, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Medical School: Suny-Hlth Sci Ctr At Syracuse, Coll Of Med, Syracuse Ny 13210
Graduation Year: 1996
Personal Journey - The 11-Year Stomachache
By Allison Bartlett
It was dark out, my husband was speeding, and I was turning my head back and forth from the road to our moaning 11-year-old son in the backseat, praying all the while: Please let this be appendicitis.
Let this be appendicitis. How does a mother get to this point? Had I been thinking rationally, of course, I’d have grasped the absurdity of my wish. The fact is, the road we took to the emergency room that night was just another leg of a long, circuitous journey that began when our son, Julian, developed frequent stomachaches years ago. His painful episodes, while never before this intense, had been almost continuous, so the chances of them stemming from a simple case of appendicitis were pretty slim.
Exactly when it all began is hard to pinpoint, like trying to remember the first raindrop of a raging storm. As a baby, Julian needed to be carried around a lot, and only in retrospect did I realize that he may have been uncomfortable even then.
Once he learned to talk, he would often quietly report, after meals, that his stomach hurt. “Where?” I would ask. “All over,” he’d say, rubbing his bloated tummy with his small hand. The pediatrician assured me the aches would eventually go away, but they didn’t. In fact, they got more frequent as time went on.
Over the years we consulted several pediatricians, who tested him for various bacteria and parasites. But when everything came up negative, all they had to offer was, “Children get stomachaches. It’s normal.”
I was particularly frustrated by the patient smiles that would come over their faces, usually followed by gentle suggestions about how much attention Julian might be craving. The more I described his cheerful disposition, how rarely he complained about anything else, the more I sounded like the mother who doth protest too much.
Eventually Julian was given a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is basically another way of saying, “Something’s wrong with your gut, but we don’t know what or why.” The doctor suggested we stop giving him dairy products and recommended over-the-counter remedies like Pepcid AC or prescription medicines like Prilosec. Still, nothing helped.
By the time Julian turned 11, his belly hurt from breakfast to bedtime, so the doctor visits continued. We consulted a homeopath, with no success, and we saw a physician who put him on what seemed to be too many supplements and not enough food (mostly broth and rice). Since even these meager meals seemed to worsen the pain, my already thin boy said he’d rather just skip this snack or that meal.
Then he started missing school—one week turned into another, and then another—at which point I contacted his pediatrician’s office and tried to convey the seriousness of the situation. The receptionist told me the doctor could see Julian in a week or two. Desperate, I called a good friend who recommended a family practitioner in our neighborhood, Daphne Miller, who agreed to see him the next da...
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