I could never imagine that a newborn baby could suffer from chronic constipation, but I guess one learns throughout the whole life. I bet Jessica`s diagnosis surprised her parents, too, and faced them with numerous challenges they are still facing. This little warrior diagnosis is for a lifetime and might bring many more surprises to deal with, both for Jessica and her parents.
Jessica Dowle was born in September 2014. She was three weeks early and weighed around 3 kg (6lb 11oz). Jessica was taken home the next day but still hadn`t passed meconium and did not until four days old. However, the midwives were not concerned. After Jessica finally passed the meconium, she suffered from constipation daily and was in so much pain and discomfort.
The GP referred her to Alderhey Children`s Hospital for a rectal biopsy for Hirschsprung’s disease, which luckily was negative. But Jessica still suffered daily. She had medication and enemas her whole life, and at the age of two, she got put on bowel washout (Quafora Mini System) which her parents have done at home for nearly two years.
She has also had anal fissures removed and botox into her sphincter muscle which was effective for about one to two weeks. But then she was in pain again.
In August 2018, the Doctors decided a colostomy stoma would help Jessica and give her body a break from the pain. So, on 8th November 2018, two months after her fourth birthday, Jessica had her stoma formed.
She was so brave and handled it so well that she nicknamed it “Apple”. She was back in school three weeks after her surgery.
She accepted her stoma pretty much straight away, but then she started suffering pain again in her rectum which ended up with her admission to the hospital. Jessica was given suppositories, pain medication, and enemas. This pain and mucus flared up every few weeks and in May 2019 she was rushed to the theatre. It was here that she was diagnosed with diversion colitis, a painful complication from having a stoma.
Things still were not great in August 2019. Jessica`s stoma narrowed inside, meaning she would need a refashion of her stoma which she had done in November 2019. It was another big operation, and it took her two months to recover from it at home.
Jessica then had a great six months with only little flare-ups of pain. However, in September 2020, she had a big flare-up again and continued having pain and inflammation.
Whilst Jessica has been going through all this, she still smiles and does not let her condition get her down. She also fundraises for a bear named buttony and all the bears Jessica sponsors go to Alderney Children`s Hospital.
Jessica also raises awareness via social media on her “Jessica`s Stoma Journey” accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, where she helps children and parents who are living or getting a stoma to build confidence and acceptance.
Jessica is a true superhero and a huge inspiration, her strength is almost supernatural, and her way of dealing with the struggle is a hope for a better tomorrow.