Katelyn Bratvold spent a recent afternoon at the park. She's getting to know her new little German Shepherd puppy named Kona. She also climbs and swings on the play set. This 11 year old girl is having a great time, free of the pain that used to keep her from enjoying these types of activities.
When Katelyn was younger, she would have stomach problems. As an 8 year old those problems ultimately led her to Marshfield where doctors diagnosed her with Crohn's Disease.
Lisa Bratvold/Katelyn's Mom: "That's a chronic disease where your immune system attacks your intestines."
Katelyn had a colonoscopy and stayed the night in the hospital.
Katelyn Bratvold: "Nerve-wracking."
From there the Bratvold family had to learn how to deal with the disease.
Dr. Daryl Fish/Pediatrician: "It is a disease that we don't cure. It's a disease that we manage. My goal in talking to families is to be able to take them from the shell shock of a diagnosis, thinking that their child is very ill to the next step of being able to normalize things."
Whereas other children were spending time outside or playing with friends.. Katelyn spent time at Ministry St. Joseph's Children Hospital. She and her family made the six-hour round trip every two months.
Lisa Bratvold: "We were there every 8 weeks for iv. Get infusion for 3 hours."
Katelyn started on oral medications but doctors soon learned her body wasn't responding. So she needed an IV medication called Remicade.
Katelyn started to feel better. But after a while the medication wore down her immune system. Katelyn developed psoriasis and pain in her back. She ended up in the hospital for twelve days.
Laurie Weber/Pediatric Nurse: "She also had issues with psoriasis and needed other modifications for her therapy. She spent a prolonged period in the hospital related to some of those complications."
Katelyn Bratvold: "I watched a lot of movies and I walked around."
Lisa Bratvold: "Even though it was in the hospital for twelve days and your kid is so sick, the nurses and the child family life were so wonderful and so supportive. Supportive to us to and trying to meet all her needs and distracting her so that my husband and I could take a break."
A special IV was needed for long-term antibiotics. The hospital stay was made easier thanks to the support of the child life program funded through Children's Miracle Network.
Lisa Bratvold: "They were really helpful with everything. The nice thing is they could go with her to procedures. And be the distracting agent."
Dr. Daryl Fish/Pediatrician: "If I call myself a pediatrician, I care about children. If I care about children then I want children to not look at the center as 'I have to go get a lab draw, I have to get an IV start'. It's rather, 'I get to go see Dr. Fish or maybe I get to see one of the child-life specialists. And in that context they are the happy people in our institution. Yes, this is a hard disease. Yes, we have to deal with bad problems but I have my friend there. My friend is going to help whether I'm having a procedure or a lab draw."
Katelyn also passed the time watching movies and doing projects.
Katelyn: "I made a window butterfly."
Lisa: "It was near Christmas and on the day we left they came in with a big bag of Christmas gifts for Katelyn and for her brother, Kyle, which was surprising and generous and nice."
After that two week hospital stay.. Katelyn's health made a significant turn for the better. Her Crohn's Disease will never go away and she does have stomach pain from time to time. But she no longer needs medication. And that goes a long way.
Katelyn: "Just leading a normal life."
Newsline 9 is proud to partner with CMN for the telethon that will air this weekend starting after Saturday's Newsline 9 at 10. Throughout the weekend you'll hear miracle stories like Katelyn's and others in our area who represent the thousands of children and their families who are helped by CMN funding.