Sadie and Crohn's Disease

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Homelessness in the Pacific Northwest.

Sadie, Crohn's Disease and Angels Among Us
A Story Based on True Happenings

Homeless in Washington WA.

Our daughter, Sadie, was diagnosed with Crohn's disease about a year ago. While there are several treatment options available, different types of the disease respond differently to different treatment methods. After consulting with her doctor up at Seattle Children's and weighing all her options carefully, it was determined that her best treatment option was a combination of medication and to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. SCD is a nutritionally balanced diet focused on eliminating most sugars, grains, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, most dairy, some fruits and veggies, etc. The diet focuses on natural nutrient rich foods including vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts.

The trickiest part is balancing the hope that comes from the thought of being able to manage disease largely through diet with the realization that if she remains committed, the only thing that would permit her to go back to eating a "normal" kid-friendly diet would be if her disease quit responding to her current treatment plan. After a lot of thoughts, discussions and prayers with Sadie, she decided she was on board. She was also excited to take it a step further and participate in a study involving 50 children from all over the country to help further the research to benefit more kids around the world.

This new way of life came with the learning curve that one would expect, even though Sadie had experience with other doctor prescribed diets to help with other health challenges in the past. Birthday parties, school celebrations, holidays, family get-togethers, and simply being away from home for more than a few hours at a time posed significant challenges. She has met those challenges with grace and diligence. One thing that has helped immensely have been the real-life angels placed among us who have helped her feel loved and included in moments when it is so easy to feel different and defined by her disease.

Here are a few examples: We have been blessed with incredible friends, who upon observing the effort that goes into our get-togethers, have taken it upon themselves to create effortless gatherings for Sadie to participate in. I know this creates a ton of work for them.

A couple of weeks before Easter, 15 kids and their parents sacrificed sugar and all the other yummy traditional holiday foods and gathered for an Easter dinner that was 100% SCD-compliant. Watching Sadie dish up her food with anything she wanted without having to ask about ingredients brought me more joy than I could have imagined. Even better was watching her participate in an Easter egg hunt where all the eggs were filled with coins and small bills and not one piece of candy.

One particularly difficult night, about a week before Halloween, our doorbell rang just before bedtime. No one was there, but on our doorstep was a bag filled with non-food prizes just for Sadie. You can imagine the gratitude in my mama heart when Halloween ended with a special knock on the door right before bedtime with gift bags full of non-food prizes. These gifts continued every night until Halloween. So much thought and effort went into each gift. She received glowsticks and glow jewelry, nail polish, scented Play Doh, scented slime, fun pencils and notepads, headbands, lip gloss, bedroom decorations, a blanket, kinetic sand, stickers, little Halloween toys, and so much more. You can imagine the gratitude in my mama heart when the Halloween week ended after special knocks at the door every day just before bedtime with gift bags of non-food prizes.

One night while putting her to bed, Sadie told me that she felt like her Heavenly Father knew this was hard, and was showing he loved her by inspiring someone to do nice things for her. I couldn't agree more! Thank you, friends. You know who you are, and I am so grateful!

We never, ever, expect accommodations. I think one of the most important things Sadie can learn is how to be social in food settings without having to eat things that will make her sick. We try to teach her that socializing is about the people and not about the food, and we always bring safe food for her to eat. But when you are nine years old? That's hard! Watching four other families sacrifice their comforts and traditions to help one little girl feel loved and included is one of the most Christlike things I have ever experienced. Our SCD Friendsgiving feast with the same families is on Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes.

The only way I can best express my feelings about the situation is to echo the following statement by Elder Jeffery R. Holland: "I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so, I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges we face."

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