In a few of my previous posts, I discussed some of the difficulties we have been having with Oliver’s eating habits and his lack of growth. Since the day he was born, he has had trouble staying interested in food and eating enough to sustain growth and development. Over the first year of his life, we monitored this with the help of his pediatrician and came to the conclusion that Oliver was simply a small child. After all, his mother and father are small people who came from small people families. However, after Oliver turned one year old, his lack of growth and difficulties with eating soon became more apparent as his growth nearly stopped.
After Oliver turned one year old, it was clear he was not taking in enough nutrition to maintain and promote growth. During the first year, he hovered around the tenth percentile on the growth chart, but quickly fell to the fifth as he aged but failed to grow. At that point, the pediatrician took note of the lack of weight gain and put him on a schedule to encourage eating. We did this for a while, but Oliver continued to descend down the growth chart.
It eventually became obvious that our attempts to promote his growth were failing and we would need to seek outside help to find out why Oliver is failing to grow. With this in mind, we were referred to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. That initial visit felt like a waste of time because he agreed with the Oliver’s pediatrician stating that Oliver is a small child born from small parents. He did state that we should try the Pediasure for thirty days and return to his office for a follow up visit. So we left the office with a bundle of Pediasure samples in hopes these would encourage Oliver to eat.
Thirty days had passed and Oliver continued to reject food and fall further down the growth chart. When the time came for the follow up appointment with the GI specialist, I almost canceled the appointment. Fortunately, that parental voice inside my head told me nothing is a waste of time when it comes to my son, so I kept the appointment. Deep down I felt like the follow up appointment was just a ploy to get more money from my insurance company, but I was soon shown the value a follow up appointment.
This appointment has led us to where I am now, the local hospital. At that appointment, the doctor’s attitude towards Oliver’s growth took a dramatic turn when he discovered Oliver had not gained any weight, even after being on the Pediasure diet for thirty days. From this appointment, while I was wrangling Oliver in the doctor’s office, he called the hospital and put us on the waiting list for admission into the pediatric wing. The GI specialist wanted Oliver in the hospital right away to complete some testing and hopefully get to the bottom of Oliver’s Failure to Thrive diagnosis.
As of right now, we have completed day five of being in the hospital. Oliver has undergone swallow studies, which determined thinner liquids, like water, were moving down his esophagus too quickly. With this finding, it was instructed that liquids be thickened with this gel like substance called Simply Thick. The test also revealed his digestive tract did not have any “gross abnormalities” and is functioning properly, which is always good news. Oliver also had a scope placed down his throat and into his stomach to look for signs of some kind of allergies, acid reflux, and anything else that can be found during the procedure. As far as I know, this test came back and there were no abnormalities. One funny side effect of this test was that Oliver left the procedure with a bad case of the farts because the doctor filled his stomach with his gas in order to get a good look around.
After the last test was completed, the doctors decided it was time to force feed Oliver with the use of a Nasal Gastric Tube (NG-Tube). For those unfamiliar with this, this is small tube inserted through the nose and down the esophagus and into the stomach. The tube was place into his stomach, by Nikki, two nurses, and me and will remain in place for approximately 90 days. However, the tube will need to be removed and replaced every fourteen days. This tube will be used to drip feed a highly concentrated form of Pediasure into his belly through the night. The idea behind this is that it will force him to take in calories and promote growth.
Even though he will be fed through the night, he will still need to eat by mouth through the day. At this time, this is one thing I am not sure about. Oliver already has difficulty eating by mouth, and now he has a tube down his throat, which is likely making it even more uncomfortable to eat and swallow. I mention this because after the tube was placed, he actually did well with the feeding through the night, but ate very little through the day and the second day was much like the first. At this point, I feel like the actual intake of food is almost the same as it was before except the nighttime feeds are with a more concentrated form of Pediasure, so the caloric intake is somewhat higher.
So, as day five in the hospital draws to a close, there are still many questions to be answered in relation to his eating. Will the NG-Tube make a difference? Will he increase his caloric intake through the day when eating by mouth? Did we spend six days in the hospital for nothing? I guess these are things that only time will tell. Until then, we will keep doing what we need to do to get this little man to grow. I am sure this will include many more doctor’s appointments and maybe even more tests at the hospital, but we are willing to do whatever it takes. We love our little man!