Besides the bloating, Nolan has stopped eating solid food with the Mighty Milk. He will eat breakfast, but lunch and/or dinner are not on the menu - he's simply too full and bloated to eat. Call me crazy, but chocolate milk is not a nutritionally complete meal option for a five year old child.
Our surgeon wrote me back and was concerned. The dietitian called me back yesterday morning. My concerns, and her responses, are below:
- He isn't eating food with the mighty milk. Her response: keep at it and make him drink it. His stomach will grow with time.
- He is bloating and uncomfortable. I am stressed because he isn't eating and he is in pain. Her response: keep at it, don't get stressed. If you get stressed, he will sense it and use food to control you.
- We don't have the script for DuoCal. Her response: I decided not to give the script to the surgeon. I sent it to his pediatrician instead. His pediatrician knows him better.
- He starts school in one week. I don't want him to miss instructional time due to leaving class for extra meals during the day. Her response: I'll write a letter to let him leave the classroom as much as he needs to, so that he can get food in the nurse's office.
I was so upset once I hung up the phone. She wasn't listening to the concerns at all - she isn't the one watching him bloat and have horrid diarrhea. She isn't watching him leave his lunch and dinner untouched due to the milk. She doesn't seem to care that he'll miss time in the classroom to accomplish her plan.
Before meeting with the dietitian, Nolan didn't have any food issues. Sure, he didn't eat quite enough of it, but he likes a lot of different types of food. He ate salmon the other night, for goodness sake! With her plan, he is learning to drink only milk, and is getting sick off it. Instead of supplementing his meals, the mighty milk is replacing his meals.
In fact, we can't even get 2 cups of mighty milk into him during a day. For the past two days, he has only had one cup. Yesterday, he refused to drink more than a quarter of a cup. It makes him feel bad, and he isn't stupid. He isn't going to drink something that makes him feel sick. The mighty milk is just a bad idea for him.
It isn't working. Plain and simple.
My intuition flickered at her note that she was now sending his prescriptions to our pediatrician. I had told her (in our initial meeting) that his pediatric group rotates doctors, so he often never sees the same one twice. In fact, he hasn't seen his "official" primary care doctor in approximately three years, as a nurse practitioner has been the one to see him for at least the past two well-child visits. Her comment that his "pediatrician knows him better" tipped me off that the surgeon might not agree with her assessment. She was purposefully avoiding talking to the doctor who had seen Nolan the most frequently over the past six months. Something wasn't right.
I decided to call the surgeon's office and schedule a follow-up appointment for the end of September, since that is when Nolan's "four week oral trial" will be finished. The office staff could tell I was a bit stressed, so I told her (in a slightly higher pitch than normal) that "Nolan-is-bloating-and-has-diarrhea-and-the-mighty-milk-makes-him-sick-and-I-don't-know-what-to-do-and-he-threw-up-in-California-and-I-think-he-might-have-reflux-again-and-I-am-really-stressed-out!"
I feel badly that she ended up with the call from the crazy, stressed out mommy. She was wonderful, though. Instead of telling me that I was silly, or overreacting, she took care of it. She told me that she would put him in for September, but also that she was going to page the nurse. The nurse would call me back.
I still felt a bit silly, as it wasn't really an emergency, but something just wasn't sitting right. The dietitian had insinuated that Nolan's intake was a behavioral issue. Having lived with the full brunt of Nolan's digestive tract for the past five years, I heartily disagree.
I was walking out to the car to go to Nolan's sleep neurologist appointment when the phone rang. It was J, the surgeon's nurse. She was a great calming force.
"What's going on, Mom?"
I gave her the lowdown, from the issues the mighty milk was causing to the vomiting attack in California.
By the tense tone in her voice, I knew she wasn't happy with the dietitian. Apparently, the dietitian had been told to order a pump, and refused to do what the doctor ordered. I told her,
"I might be overreacting, but I'm worried that the delayed gastric emptying is causing a big problem. And I'm worried that the reflux is back, with the vomiting being so severe."
She simply said, "This is why we wanted to do overnight feeds. Some children cannot physically, medically take in the right amount of food to grow. This isn't a behavioral issue, this is a child with a known history of severe GI tract issues who had a fundoplication and needs nutritional support."
As a side note, the dietitian also lied to me. She told me that overnight feeds were not possible with the C-Pap. After conferring with other parents who have children who require both, I found that this was patently untrue. Children CAN receive overnight feeds and use C-Pap (or BiPap) at the same time - as long as a nasal mask is used in case they vomit. His sleep neurologist confirmed this at our appointment later that day.
I especially loved the nurse because she had a plan. I didn't have to continually fret over something that wasn't working. Her plan is:
- Do an upper GI barium to ensure the fundoplication is intact and functioning. If it isn't, this is the cause of his vomits and feeding problems. If it is, then we can relax about that portion and focus on step #2.
- Get a pump and do overnight feeds. This will allow him to eat normally during the day, won't cause him to miss classroom time, and will allow him to grow with a nutritionally complete formula (as opposed to chocolate milk).
The upper GI will be done this Friday. I am waiting for the hospital to call with the time. They can put the barium through his g-tube, so the procedure will be extremely simple for him. In the meantime, he is eating regular food and is happy to stay away from the horrid mighty milk.