For the family of 11-year-old Daizy Adams, gut instinct has been a lifesaver—quite literally.
Adams first began complaining of intense stomach pains back in late July. Her mother, Sharyn Partridge, thought the ordeal would be a quick situation; after the girl was diagnosed with nothing more than a stomach bug at the Derriford Hospital located in Plymouth, England, it was expected that fluids and some rest would get the girl back to normal in no time.
That wouldn’t prove to be the case.
“Daizy’s never ill. She was complaining about having a sore stomach and feeling poorly, the day before she was going on holiday with her dad,” her mother told The Sun.
“I thought she was just nervous about the flight. She’d thrown up five times on the way to the airport.”
The following few weeks were a haunting ordeal for the family. Adams went on vacation to Spain with her father just days after being diagnosed with gastroenteritis, where she would visit yet another doctor – this one in another country entirely—for symptoms that just weren’t going away. If anything, they were getting worse.
The doctors in Spain gave Daizy the same diagnosis, but the situation was clearly more than just a stomach bug.
Gastroenteritis is one of the most common ailments suffered worldwide. Over 2 billion children under the age of 5 suffer from the bug, commonly referred to as the “stomach flu,” each year on estimate—and in England, where Daizy resides with her mother, it’s believed that roughly 20 percent of the older child and adult population will contract some form of viral or bacterial infection falling under the gastro umbrella each year.
Treatment is normally quick and simple, with little in the way of medication needed outside of symptom relievers. While the bug is unpleasant and often seems to drag out for those suffering, it typically resolves itself sometimes between a day and a few weeks after the patient first shows symptoms.
That wasn’t the case with Daizy Adams. She first complained of the stomach pains on July 27, and returned from her Spain vacation on August 4 still feeling increasingly poor. Her mother, Sharyn, said that she looked about ’30 lbs lighter’ upon her return from the vacation, and could barely muster up the energy to move around the house.
Her mom said she looked like she had an eating disorder, although Sharyn knew that wasn’t the case.
“Her bones were sticking out. She looked like she’d lost a couple of stone (14 pounds).”
From there, Sharyn would bounce from medical facility to medical facility, heading from her GP to the hospital and back again as doctor after doctor tried to figure out the problem.
“I was absolutely heartbroken to see her like that, with the weight loss. It was so hard to see her like that,” her mother said. “I had to take her to the toilet – she was like an 80-year-old woman, she’d be bent over.”
“She complained of a constant dull ache that would spike every now and again.”
Sharyn’s GP suspected appendicitis, and thus sent Daizy to Derriford Hospital. When the hospital reiterated the diagnosis of gastroenteritis and dehydration, though, Sharyn brought her back to the health center to see if maybe someone was wrong.
No one had an answer other than “stomach bug,” but Daizy was only getting worse.
It finally took Sharyn refusing to leave the hospital without a diagnosis for a doctor to believe he’d diagnosed the problem, discovering an ovarian cyst that Daizy was immediately brought into surgery for. Upon opening her up, though, the ‘bug’ she’d been suffering revealed itself… in the form of an already-burst appendix, likely not far from ending the girl’s life altogether.
“She was in surgery for five hours, I’ve never seen so many people operating on someone. I was absolutely devastated,” her mother said.
Her appendix was “nowhere to be seen” when doctors went in, and it took a bowel flushing to bring her back to proper health.
“The surgeon said in 30 years they have never seen anything like that,” her mother added.
Daizy’s story has a happy ending. The surgeons were able to save her, and she spent just a few days in recovery before heading home.
Her mother wants this to be a cautionary tale, though. Misdiagnosing appendicitis isn’t scarily common, but it’s still too common for comfort; she wants parents to be vigilant, pressing for answers even if the doctors think it’s nothing serious. Not every story has as happy an ending as Daizy’s, after all.
Hopefully, her story can help raise awareness, and save another life.