Elouise had a little lamb

Undergoing multiple injections can be confronting for any person let alone a five-year-old but this is a reality for Elouise. After being diagnosed with a rare condition, Elouise’s daily routine involves very specific injections all to help stop the pain caused by her auto-inflammatory disorder she would otherwise endure every day without it. To help with her intense treatments, a neighbouring farmer came up with an out-of-the-ordinary plan to help comfort Elouise during her many needles and it involves caring for little lambs. 

It all started in May 2020 when four-year-old Elouise was jumping on a trampoline at home with friends when suddenly she screamed. Mum, Katharine, at the time didn’t think it was anything serious and thought Elouise had just twisted her leg awkwardly. Katharine brought her daughter to their local GP who suspected Elouise had fractured her leg. They were referred to Bathurst Hospital where Elouise had an x-ray that showed a visible deformity of the bone, this was taken to be a fracture and her leg was put into a full leg cast for five weeks.

After her plaster was removed, Elouise was unable to walk and was still feeling immense pain in her leg, and it was continuing to worsen. As well as the severe pain in her leg, Elouise was continuously sick and was losing weight so the family took her back to Bathurst hospital.

Their local Hospital sent blood samples to the Haematology team at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) and the results showed that there was something wrong but they would need to be admitted to CHW for further tests.

In August 2020, Katharine and Elouise left their small farm near Bathurst and travelled 180km to Westmead and underwent further tests with the Haematology team. After spending 10 days in hospital, the tests discovered that Elouise had a rare condition called Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO).

CRMO is an auto-inflammatory disorder, meaning that the immune system attacks the bones causing inflammation, even though there is no infection. For Elouise, this causes her to be in pain every single day.

“Before all of this, Elouise was a firecracker child. Nothing would or could stop her, but since diagnosis, it’s not the same little girl that I had before. She goes to pre-school and some days struggles to get through a whole day because of the pain she is in,” said mum, Katharine.

Upon being told the diagnosis, Katharine was in shock as she was entering into a place of unknown but at the same time, she felt relieved knowing there was an explanation for all of Elouise’s pain. Since diagnosis, Katharine has worked closely with the Rheumatology Team to organise Elouise’s medication that includes daily steroids, folic acid tablets, Celebrex Tablets, weekly Methotrexate injections and fortnightly Humira injections - all of this is to try and help stop the lesions from forming or getting worse. 

A local neighbouring farmer, Dean, came up with a solution to help Elouise cope with her needles so that the experience isn’t too scary for her. 

“Dean came up with a plan, after a certain amount of needles Dean would give Elouise a lamb if there was one that needed to be bottle-fed and looked after. Elouise promised Dean that she would be as brave as she could be. This is a perfect distraction for a sweet little farm girl who is animal crazy. We are incredibly grateful that Dean is willing to give these lambs to Elouise and they are a welcomed distraction for her,” said Katharine. 

Elouise currently has five lambs that she feeds twice a day. Her Great Grandmother’s craft group knit little jumpers for her the lambs to dress them up and keep warm.

Elouise is responding well with her treatment and the family could not be more thankful for the Rheumatology Department at CHW for their expertise.

“I am truly grateful that she is under an amazing team who are so attentive to her needs. I feel like we have built a very good relationship with the clinical team. We don’t know what comes next but having a team that is so supportive means I feel like I can ask anything -no matter what the question is- and I don’t feel silly for asking,” said Katharine.