A sweet is Libby's Christmas dinner

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2012
Libby Strangman
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
ORDEAL: Christmas in hospital is bad enough, but dealing with painful Crohn's disease is worse for Libby Strangman.

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Spending Christmas Day in hospital is bad enough, but for Libby Strangman, 15, her Christmas dinner was a single sugar-free boiled sweet.

Libby has Crohn's disease, which causes painful inflammation of the bowels, meaning she cannot digest solid food.

She has not eaten for almost a week and spends 20 hours each day hooked up to a feeding tube to get vital nutrition.

Even worse, she received a chocolate fountain and several boxes of chocolates for Christmas yesterday.

Libby went to Christchurch Hospital for a checkup last Wednesday and was told she had to stay.

"I've lost five kilograms in the last couple of weeks," she said. "I run out of energy pretty quickly."

Libby missed two of her National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 1 exams at Papanui High School because of the disease last month.

"I sat one exam and came into hospital by ambulance afterwards," she said.

Despite being in hospital on Christmas Day, Libby and her family were upbeat and made the most of the location, decorating her room with fairy lights, tinsel and Christmas cards.

Parents Steve and Tracey and older sister Georgie, 18, crammed in to open presents and Libby was allowed out of hospital for four hours at 3pm.

They raced to two family events so they could get back in time for the next 20 hours on the feeding tube.

The ward nurses made gift packages for patients.

Libby's hospital room was packed with her friends on Christmas Eve.

But, her father said, it could get worse. "We might possibly be in hospital for New Year."

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