Friday, 19 April 2013

Reflux: A Living Nightmare!

It's hard for me to talk about this topic without using any naughty words; it brings back memories of one of the most difficult times of my life as a parent! Almost twenty four hours of relentless screaming day in and day out! Feeling helpless as there is practically nothing you can do to comfort your child! No sleep! No rest! No way of knowing when it will end! A living nightmare!!!

I am talking about Reflux or Gastro-oesophagea Reflux Disease, which is it posh name. My little Lottie was diagnosed with Reflux at just a few weeks old; as you may already have gathered  it was by far the hardest parenting challenge that hubbie and I have ever had to face. When a child suffers from Reflux, everyone suffers!

Awareness Week


This week is national "Living with Reflux Week", so I decided that it was a fitting time to share my personal experience.

I was unaware of what Reflux was before Lottie was diagnosed; I had previously had Ruby, who when looking back was a dream baby; she would self settle and nap when she needed to. It was a whole different experience when Lottie came along, who not through any fault of her own began to suffer from this horrible condition at just six weeks old.

When a baby or child has Reflux, they are prone to bringing up a mixture of food, drink and stomach acid, burning the food pipe and throat in the process and making them extremely painful; this mixture can even make it's way into the windpipe to irritate the lungs and potentially cause severe chest infections.

We had numerous trips to the Children's Ward at the Leicester Royal Infirmary during these difficult times where doctors tried all sorts of medicines in an attempt to combat the Reflux. We found that Lottie was worse when she was lying down, she wouldn't even settle when she was being held. I could actually hear the acid coming up and burning the back of her throat, my poor little Lottie, I felt so helpless!

I remember one Thursday shortly after Lottie was born, hubbie had gone back to work and I was on my own at home with the girls; the previous day Lottie had been unsettled but I did not think anything of it; this Thursday was like no other, Lottie was so unsettled, nothing I did would stop her crying, she was literally screaming all the time. I don't think people actually believed me when I said there was no let up. People thought that I was making it up, but it was sheer torture. I rang Phil at work crying, I told him what was up and that something must be wrong; my Mummy instinct was kicking in; I told him I didn't feel like I could cope and thankfully he came from work.

Tiny Lottie and Mummy

Phil tried to settle Lottie but couldn't stop her crying; we decided on a trip to the doctors and they prescribed Infant Gaviscon but unfortunately this seemed to have no effect. One evening we went to A and E and were admitted to the ward; thankfully the doctors were a lot more understanding and diagnosed it as Reflux. You would think that this was the end to the story but it wasn't! It was a long fight to get the right medication and a lot of experimentation to get the right dosage. I lost count of how many times I saw various GPs at our practice; one very unhelpful doctor who I will never see again, told me that if Lottie will settle in her car seat I should drive her around for naps and leave her in the car seat all day! She really put my back up; no way was I doing that! Firstly, babies are not supposed to sleep in their car seats or be in them for any longer than 2 hours and secondly, how much it was going to cost me in fuel and time driving around? I knew I had a fight on my hands and it was up to me to get the treatment needed to make my daughter better. Fortunately I found an amazing GP within my practice, I told her what the other GP had said andshe was really angry with her colleague. I cried to her and told her everything; fortunately for us she was prepared to do anything to get Lottie's Reflux under control; she even kept in touch with me every other day for progress updates and to help me tweak the medication doses.

At some points I didn't even want to leave the house as I was afraid of what people would say as she just screamed constantly; I had people come to visit who initially thought I was exaggerating; they soon realised that I wasn't when they witnessed first hand how bad the constant screaming and crying was.

We tried everything; at one point the doctors thought that it might have been flared up by a dairy intolerance, so as I was breast feeding her. I had to go a week without diary; this was really hard considering I hardly eat any meat and rely on dairy as my main source of protein.

I did a lot of research after Lottie was diagnosed and found that one of the best things that helped her was wearing her in a carrier; we started off with a close carrier and now have a woven wrap which I love to this day. We also bought a rocking swing which has been the best thing that we have ever bought from eBay at a bargain price of just £10.50.

Our woven wrap that we love.

Thankfully Lottie's Reflux days are behind us now. I don't think anyone can really understand how bad it is to have a Reflux baby unless they have personally had one or witnessed someone who has. The best advice I can give to any parent is to trust your instinct, if something doesn't feel right with your child, it probably isn't. It is also important to fight for the right medication for your child and do not take no for an answer.

If you need any further help or advice on Reflux then feel free to get in touch; you can also visit one of the following sites for more information - http://www.livingwithreflux.org/ or http://www.littlerefluxers.co.uk/


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