Prep Girls Basketball: Sultan’s Richardson back after dealing with bowel disease

by Symptom Advice on February 17, 2012

Brittany Richardson would slip away during halftime to the bathroom in the locker room.

The Sultana girls basketball player often spent that eight-minute break throwing up, trying to make her stomach feel better.

Then it was back on the court where she was still a proficient player, averaging 7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game as a junior.

Today, Richardson is far more effective as a player, and is pain free. Now a senior, she’s the Sultans’ leading scorer at 15.4 points per game.

“I felt actually really good (when this season began),” Richardson said. “I was already healthy when it was time for the season so I felt really confident.”

But it was just a year ago that Richardson was forced off the court and into a hospital bed after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the colon and rectum.

The pains started in December 2010. The Sultans were at a tournament when Richardson first noticed blood in her stool. Then came the stomach pains, but she kept playing basketball.

An initial visit to the hospital didn’t reveal anything and she kept playing despite the pain.

Her final game that season came against Apple Valley on Jan. 4. she contributed 10 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals, but she was done.

“That I night I was like, I can’t go to practice no more,” Richardson said. “That night it really hit me. I started getting stomach pains that were really bad.”

Her weight was plummeting. she said she lost 10 pounds in one week from throwing up, and Mary Navarro — her teammate and best friend — said each time she saw Richardson, she’d look even skinnier than the previous time.

“you could see my bones and everything. it was bad,” said Richardson, who at her lowest point was down to 99 pounds.

Richardson finally went to see a specialist and got a colonoscopy, which revealed she had ulcerative colitis. she ended up spending much of the next month in the hospital and had seven pints of blood transfused. she credits her parents Tarius and Michelle and grandparents Cindy and Tony Serrano for watching her through that time. Teammates and coaches also made frequent visits.

“I went to visit her in the hospital and I was taken aback by it, I have to be honest,” Serbus said. “Selfishly, you want to have her on the basketball floor, but her health was more important.”

She finally left the hospital for good in late January. Although Sultana’s season didn’t end until mid-February, Richardson was in no condition to play, relieved of her symptoms but feeling weak.

“When I got out of the hospital I actually tried to shoot the ball and the ball felt really heavy,” Richardson said. “I didn’t know I was going to feel as weak as I did.”

Richardson slowly started to make her way back after the season ended. she started putting on weight and eventually built up to playing basketball again.

Today her ulcerative colitis is manageable. She’s back to her normal 127 pounds and hasn’t had a flare up since she left the hospital. she has to get a yearly colonoscopy and watch what she eats, avoiding dairy and anything else that starts to bother her stomach, but is largely back to living a normal life.

And making up for lost time on the court. Along with leading the team in scoring, she averages 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

“She’s been phenomenal this year,” Serbus said.Matthew Peters can be reached at or (760) 955-5365.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: