Poppy's Story

I’m Poppy and I’ve been sick since I was seven years old. 

I have Crohn’s disease and I have to come to hospital all the time. Even at Christmas. Crohn’s has no cure. I take medication every day, I have lots of infusions of really strong medicine and lots of appointments.  

When I first got ill, I couldn’t eat and I was always tired. I couldn’t go anywhere or make plans because I kept being sick. I lost a third of my bodyweight and you could see my bones through my skin.

My tummy was sore all the time, and my family was really scared as no one seemed to know what was going on with me. 

I missed lots of school, and I couldn’t play with my friends because I didn’t have any energy to join in. I could barely get out of bed. I felt really left out. 

I know the hospital helps me, but I feel sad when I have to miss doing stuff with my friends, especially at Christmas time. I wish I could go to parties and pantos and sing in the choir.

- Poppy

In the beginning, I had to have a feeding tube put in to give my gut a rest. I hated it and it made me feel really angry. I would tell her there was nothing wrong with me, kick and scream and try to pull the tube out. 

I didn’t understand. I asked, ‘Why me?’ and wished I could have been born without my illness. 

The infusions hurt and the tablets were hard to swallow. I refused to take them. I felt overwhelmed and helpless. Like I had lost control over my body. 

But I’m learning to cope and there are lots of people here at the hospital that help make me feel better. They understand how hard things can be and make everything more fun. 

I’ve made friends at the hospital and it’s nice getting to know other people with the same condition as me. It makes me feel less alone. 

Sometimes I worry about the future. I will have Crohn’s all my life but I don’t know if it will get worse. Coming here and knowing I can do fun things like making Christmas cards and decorations makes everything easier. I love helping to decorate the hospital windows rather than thinking ‘what’s next?’ 

“For families like mine, things don’t change just because it’s Christmas. You still have a sick child. For children like Poppy, Christmas can feel like just another day.

“Every year, thousands of children like Poppy have to come to hospital. Again and again and again.

“Alongside the wonderful NHS, the ECHC team is by our side, month in and month out, helping to distract and comfort Poppy, cheering her up and keeping me going.

“Will you be there too?” – Mandy, Poppy’s mum