As one may rightly conclude from my writing style that my mind sometimes wonders and makes different connections. Related points albeit a little off track. My next post is on symptom management of the GI side effects of chemotherapy. In this post that I am in the process of writing, I make one point that I think has a broader audience then those who will read the full post. So I have decided to mention this point separately as well in this short update. The full post will be published in the next few days.
I will also probably reiterate this in the future in a post focusing on tips for caregivers. As it is something that I tell parents when their child is getting admitted for bone marrow transplant. I also shared this tip with my cousin who said was helpful to her when she was caring for her mother in hospice. I hope that you find this helpful too.
Many parents and caregivers think “my child is eating and this means that he/she is doing well.” I would try to separate the two thoughts. Part of my normal speech to parents when their children are getting admitted for bone marrow transplant is that “today you have to find something else other then your child eating that will make you happy. The majority of children just will not eat enough during transplant and will need to get their nutrition through the IV. It is by no means is a sign of some kind of failure. Such nutrition may not be as ideal as getting nutrition through eating and it is not a long term solution but in the short term can provide your child the protein and fats needed to stay strong while in the hospital. But if it is only your child’s eating that will make you happy then it will be miserable month or two. (Of course it is a hard month or two at baseline). Try your best to train yourself into thinking of a ‘good day’ differently. Such as a day that I heard my child laugh or they smiled or played.” It was this last point that helped my cousin care for her mother in hospice. During this time her mom was not in need of a lot of nutrition as her metabolism had slowed. She certainly did not need the typical Puerto Rican food spread that my cousin would want to entice her with nor did she require IV nutrition. So I asked my cousin to find new ways to define a ‘good day’, one that was not centered on food. She appreciated this advice and found new connections with her mom. I hope this thought is helpful to you too.
Of course as a parent or caregiver, you can help and support food intake by offering SMALL healthy and unhealthy snacks. Normal and large portions can sometimes turn patients off to food because it is too overwhelming. But sometimes no matter what, kids will just not eat. The illness aside, there is so little that children can control in the hospital but this is something they can control. Please don’t make your self miserable by forcing this. There are times as doctors that we will try to force the issue and we will need your help, but let us help guide you when it is the right time is and when it is not.
My fellow cancer patients will need to read my entire post to find out why forcing myself to eat during chemotherapy was a good thing. And why the effort and work was WELL worth it!
Link for post referenced that followed this entry. http://chemotherapycheerleader.com/organic-vomit-improving-the-nausea-and-vomiting-of-chemotherapy/