No parent wants to see their child sick and in pain. But imagine if your child was sick and no one could tell you why. For several years, Brad and Lisa Bratvold of Birchwood watched as their then eight-year-old daughter felt ill on and off. They took her to multiple doctors, receiving multiple diagnoses with no resolution. Then in February 2009, they made the three hour trip to Marshfield where she was diagnosed with Crohns Disease.
Crohns Disease is a chronic abdominal condition which causes inflammation, or swelling, and irritation of any part of the digestive tract. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
As a registered nurse, Lisa knew what Crohns Disease could mean for their daughter and imagined the worst. "The diagnosis brought some relief," shared Lisa, "but also sadness and I knew what we might be in for."
Their journey began with a colonoscopy followed by an overnight stay at Ministry Saint Joseph's Children's Hospital and the start of medications. It was then they were introduced to Laurie Weber, a pediatric nurse at Marshfield Clinic. "She explained everything," said Lisa. "She has become our friend and Katelyn's advocate."
Every two months, The Bratvolds, including 9-year-old brother Kyle, made regular trips to Marshfield. After trialing several treatment plans, the family and medical team decided to begin a medication called Remicade. This was a difficult decision due to the possible side effects. "We had to think about what she needed at that time," said Brad, "not what can maybe happen later."
Immediately her symptoms resolved and her labs were normal, until August 2010. It was then that Katelyn began to get sick every few weeks. She had back pain and developed scaling in her scalp. It was determined she had developed psoriasis and a chest CT scan showed nodules in her lungs and on her ribs.
Fearing the worst, Katelyn was admitted into the Hospital for 12 days. Following numerous x-rays, a bone biopsy and MRI, it was determined that Katelyn had a fungal infection. A special intravenous line was placed for long-term antibiotics.
Since leaving the Hospital, Katelyn has weaned off all her medications. She has stomach pain one to two times a week, but it doesn't interfere with her daily life of sports, snowmobiling and reading.
At 11-years-old, Katelyn, with the help of her medical team, is learning to live life to the fullest despite her disease.