Jennifer Rackley Jennifer Rackley's Blog

Do You Get Better Treatment When You Look “Sick”?

Let me preface this by saying that I am grateful that no one in my family "looks sick". That having been said have you ever felt like because you (or your child) looks well your medical needs are not taken as seriously?

Over the years I have talked with many parents and acid reflux patients who have found this very thing to be true in their own journey though this disease. There are many faces to this disease and while not everyone "looks sick" many are dealing with the same amount or even more pain.

My daughter Ella is a prime example. She is a very healthy looking child with a healthy weight and perhaps even a bit extra. Ella generally has a smile on her face and lots of giggles to spare. After dealing with acid reflux for her entire life she also has a pretty high threshold for pain. You will rarely hear her complain.

You would also not be able to tell that she has esophagitis in the lower third of her esophagus or that she has to strain so hard to have a bowel movement that she bleeds. You can't tell by looking that she throws up and swallows it more times than I can count or that it is hard for her to sleep or play when her acid reflux is flared up. She spends those days saying "mama cuddle" and clinging to my legs.

We have been very blessed to have doctors, a pedi and GI, who have always taken Ella's pain and acid reflux seriously. I am eternally grateful for that. When I hear stories about the opposite occurring I am truly devastated for the family. It is hard enough to be in pain or have a child in pain but to be ignored or brushed off... totally unacceptable.

When family members or even people on the outside make snide comments it can be equally as hard to deal with. Here are a few I have gotten:

"She sure doesn't look like she misses a meal over it".
"She looks healthy enough".
"Should she really be on those kinds of medicines at her age?"
"Have you given her a Tums?"

These are not the first or last comments we will get but it definitely highlights the complete lack of understanding that still exists with regard to this disease and specifically how it affects children. Most people really mean well so try not to take the comments too personally. Though I have felt it might be helpful to carry a pre-printed sheet of the complications of acid reflux to "hand out" on just such an occasion! ;)

If you feel your child is in pain though they don't "look sick" I encourage you to follow your gut. Get a second opinion. I don't want to know what kind of pain Ella would be in if we had been brushed off.


Check with your
doctor first!