on getting a child to eat. . .
We have a child in ICU right now who hasn’t been able to grow for years, because almost every time he eats he throws up. . . He’s 7 years old and the size of a 1 year old (11kgs).
He came to the hospital last week and we were able to do a study to look at his whole esophagus and found that he has spasm at the end and widening of the the rest of it. Our surgeons dilated the end, and finally for the first time in years, he can swallow.
But he’s scared. Swallowing hasn’t worked in a long time. And he wants cake – not the nutritional formula I need to give him to jump start his body to process food again.
So yesterday, he refused to eat. We tried everything. Different formulas, begging, talking, bargaining. But he refused. And begged for bread.
So this morning, I went through a box of toys that some high school students in Texas had sent to us and found a bagful of match box cars. All colors, all shapes, and perfect for a 7 year old boy that needs some motivation – to push through fear, and realize that he can eat again.
So this morning, I showed him the cars and asked if he would take milk in exchange for the blue one, and then the red one, and then another. . .He started smiling ear to ear, and then spoke to mom in Swahili, “I still want cake,” he said, “but can I please have some milk?”
This afternoon, I came to check on him, and we raced the cars down his bed and high-fived that he had taken the milk twice. He was transformed, and his worried mom looked relaxed at the bedside.
This is one of the reasons I love pediatrics – that I get to play and laugh with my patients. I can be creative, and silly, and then, at the end of the day, I can smile when I find him asleep guarding his cars – belly full -with new hope that he can be strong once again.