A Family’s Story Highlights the Problem with Diagnosing and Living with Crohn’s Disease
The story of Tressa Clark, a young 10-year old girl from Delmont, Pennsylvania is one on the difficulties that come with diagnosing Crohn’s disease, as well as the significance of parental persistence.
During the summer of 2016, Clark’s parents, Heather and Logan, noticed a break out in sores in their daughter’s mouth. “Our doctor thought she had a real bad case of strep throat” said Logan, Clark’s father. After she spent two months in and out of the hospital, doctors hypothesized that Clark was suffering from a specific type of gingivitis or she was having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste she had used at home. However, both diagnoses did not explain her persistent bouts of diarrhea and her lack of energy. “When we took her to the hospital the next time, they thought she might be constipated. Over Christmas, I asked for another X-ray, which they were reluctant to take” said Heather, Clark’s mother.
The results from her X-ray revealed that Clark’s bowels were not blocked, but she still experienced symptoms. The family was then referred to a gastrointestinal specialist and Clark was admitted to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her parents requested a CT scan and again, they were met with resistance by doctors. “My dad almost got kicked out of the hospital” said Clark.
The results of the CT scan indicated a problem in Clark’s small intestine. She underwent a colonoscopy that revealed her small intestine had swelled to the point where doctors could not pass a camera through it. Finally, in January of 2017, 7 months after her symptoms first began, Clark was given an official diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.