Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Oliverius Family: Sick Kids in the County Attorney's Office

By: Tina Oliverius

Our oldest daughter, 17, has been sick on and off for several years now. After many doctor visits and acid reflux medications, we switched her to a different doctor. They asked for blood tests right away. We were informed that her liver enzymes were extremely high and she had a bacterial infection in her blood called H pylori. We then went down the long, long path of scans and ultrasounds to find out that she had chronic appendicitis and also needed her gall bladder removed. We were informed after the surgery that they needed to keep her for another procedure after finding that her bile duct was badly scared and misshaped. They performed an upper endoscopy to try and straighten the bile duct. When this was done, they were suspecting Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns and/or a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, which would place her on the transplant list. They also scheduled an appointment for a colonoscopy.

One month later and about 10 days of school missed, she had her colonoscopy done and more blood tests. One week later she had an official diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis or IBD. Thankfully, her blood tests returned showing no liver disease. (I’m still counting my blessings on that one!!) They started her on several meds, including stronger pain meds and nothing seemed to be working. They doubled the meds and through this we realized that she is also lactose and gluten intolerant. We were up to about 20 days missed at this point.

Ulcerative Colitis is a horrible chronic illness that is a lifelong, process of elimination. Foods, meds, lifestyle…..everything. I have seen my daughter hooked up to morphine that wasn’t beginning to touch the pain she was in. Yet 2 weeks later she had a teacher yell at her and say that he was “sick of doing everything for her and she was faking and milking the whole thing.” As if all of this wasn’t enough, we were informed by the school’s counselor that they had, “turned us into the county attorney,” and that we “would have to go to court because of her poor attendance.” Now, because this is a public forum, I won’t say what came out of my mouth after that.

This is my daughter’s senior year, a year that they could take away from her. Hasn’t the pain and horrible effects of this illness taken enough? These are the people that are supposed to be a support line for our children. How are they to do their jobs with laws like this in place? I have never been so sad, mad and completely irritated in my entire life. Unfortunately we are being forced to choose between her health and her education. We have, and will always, chose her health. We have no choice. How does the “good life” state not see that?


  1. Lori Rowan PeetzNovember 10, 2011

    Crazy! We are going thru the same situation! Same stuff! My daughter has missed 10 days the 1st quarter and about 5 so far this quarter. The school wrote us up and said they would be sending us in but haven't heard anything more. Not like I want her missing but like you say, her health comes 1st!! She is an A student and only misses for doctor's appts and illness. This policy has got to change!
    Lori Rowan Peetz, Sidney, NE

  2. Tina, your story is a perfect illustration of how this badly-written law is straining and breaking the personal relationships between teachers, school admininistrators, students and parents - relationships which are vital to a good education. It also illustrates that the provision added to the law this year which is supposed to protect students with medical excuses is completely useless. Thank you for sharing your story.