Dear Red Wine,
Today I want to share my epiphany …. What goes around comes around.
All the CF parents out there will know that dieticians play a very important role. They give you direction on how to get your CF child to gain weight and improve nutrition, which in turn, increases their lung function. But sometimes …. I gotta admit, I find it quite difficult to act upon the advice they give me for my CF daughter. Let me tell you about this one time ……..
When Evie (my child with CF) was about 3 years old she hadn’t gained weight for a while. Evie is one of those CFers that have absolutely no appetite and is the fussiest eater on the planet!!! Eating was excruciatingly difficult and stressful. So, this one time, at clinic, our lovely dietician armed me with the knowledge of the importance of making the most of opportunities when Evie was feeling hungry. We had to make every mouthful packed full of calories. I had to make wonderful delicious dishes that looked appealing. If it looked good then she’d be more enticed to eat it right? And I had to add salt and fibre to keep her regular (she’s prone to bowel blockages). So off I went bubbling with enthusiasm and a list of high calorie foods and appealing recipes showing photographs of scrumptious, delectable dishes that would put the kilos on anyone. I was going to kick CF butt.
Just a few issues with that …… 1) I was far too busy as a Mum with a CF child to cook anything except baked beans on toast; 2) I just can’t cook; and 3) Evie is an incredibly fussy eater who is never hungry, but when she does get hungry, it’s always at the most inopportune times.
I used one of the recipes to cook a high calorie nutritious lasagne for dinner. Sounded simple enough. I didn’t add the grated vegetables … I knew I’d never get those past Evie (vegetables are poison). I used extra salt, extra cheese, I made the béchamel sauce with cream for more calories and then I went to put in 2 teaspoons of Benefibre … but the phone rang and I had to answer (it was the dietician to see how we were going… who rings a mum at dinner time?!) …. I fumbled for the phone and dropped the Benfibre … about half a cup went into the béchamel sauce. Opps. Oh well. Not going to waste all that food by starting again. Popped the lasagne into the oven and decided to do Evie’s physio with her while it was cooking. Bad move. Evie decided she really didn’t want to do physio that evening. After an hour and a half of negotiating, bribing, crying, screaming, doors slamming and not giving up, Evie had finally completed physio and I was totally stressed out, in need of a wine and had forgotten I was cooking….. It was still edible. I decided to call it ‘space man on moon rocks’ and served it up to Evie with a jelly baby perched enticingly on top (well, no parsley as a garnish as it’s vegetable poison). Of course Evie wouldn’t have a bar of my creative, enticing and nutritious dish. So… I was left eating lasagne for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I put on 5 kg and was also left with a ‘burning ring of fire’ …. Half a cup of Benefibre really does keep you excessively regular.
After more failed attempts at cooking (I won’t be staring on Master Chief in this lifetime), I gave up on the recipes and decided I’d focus on getting food into Evie in those rare and fleeting moments she expressed hunger.
Okay, so mid-way through grocery shopping and with only a few items in my trolley, Evie says “Mummy I’m hungry. I want a sandwich”. In shock and disbelief, I quickly remembered the list of high calorie foods the dietician gave me and hunted around in my trolley with much hast to see what I had that was on the list to make a sandwich. I didn’t have bread … the bread was down the opposite end of the shop … by the time I got there Evie wouldn’t be hungry anymore … so I would have to use chocolate slabs instead (justification: chocolate would double as the high calorie ‘enticer’ since I didn’t have any jelly babies in easy reach to use as garnish). I was frantic. What else could I put on this sandwich that was on the list of high calorie foods? The lady across the aisle wasn’t watching her trolley, she was focused on selecting yoghurt, so I crept like ninja and stealthily ‘borrowed’ the mascarpone cheese from her trolley (what?! I would pay for it). I also had salami and whipped cream in my trolley so I wacked those in between the chocolate slabs too. Winning! Salami, mascarpone cheese and whipped cream presented between rustic chocolate slabs. Now that’s a high calorie sandwich! Three of those 4 foods were on the dieticians list! The dietician would be so proud of me!!!
To my surprise, Evie actually ate a bit of it and (not to my surprise) smeared the rest all over herself and me. I shovelled a couple of enzyme tablets into her. Should have seen the looks I was getting from the other shoppers – first I was making my child eat a messy chocolate / salami concoction and then I was popping pills into her. Crazy mother alert! But hey, I got at least 3 calories into Evie that day!
And so it went on ….and on …. for several months, trying to take advantage of every opportunity to get high calorie food into Evie at extreme lengths.
We went back to CF clinic a couple months later. Evie hadn’t gained any weight. I told the dietician of my extraordinary efforts. She wasn’t as impressed as I thought she should be. She said, in a very nice and encouraging way, that I should ‘try harder’ and there was no such thing as a ‘fussy’ eater. I cried in the consultation room. I felt like a failure (but I had no hard feelings towards the dietician… she was just doing her job).
After that, the dietician went off maternity leave and we didn’t see her again until 8 years later…. She was completely blown away at how great Evie looked (thank heaven for feeding PEGs!). And then the dietician said “I’m sorry”. She explained that back when Evie was only 3 years old and she gave me all that advice, she hadn’t yet had children herself and she had absolutely no comprehension of how incredibly difficult it was to get a fussy child with no appetite to eat. Let alone have all the ingredients on hand and skills to cook all that stuff! She realised she was asking me to do the impossible.
So you see, red wine, in life you have to remember … what goes around comes around.
PS. Yes I paid for all that food in the grocery shop incident …. Yes the salami did fall out of the packaging and go all over the checkout conveyer belt …. And yes, after Evie got her feeding PEG she gained 5 kg and I lost 10 kg because I didn’t eat her leftovers! Winning!
IMAGE: Evie (with CF) …. Chocolate and salami is the breakfast of champions!?
Sonia is a single mum with two daughters who she loves and adores. Her oldest daughter has Cystic Fibrosis. Sonia works in a high level role at a very fancy organisation, makes costumes for school presentations at 10 pm the night before, is a proficient multi-tasker (she can do physio, weird yoga poses, order medication on the phone, sort out a sibling rivalry issue, sip a red wine and burn dinner all at once). Sonia doesn’t believe in homework, reading school notes, turning up on time, using pegs to hang the washing out or paying bills by their due date. Her greatest achievement in life, apart from her two beautiful daughters, was being able to sleep 8 hours straight without being woken up to deal with a lost teddy bear / kinked feeding tube / crocodile under the bed / diabetic low way back in 2004. Sonia does enjoy a red wine in moderation, but contrary to her blogs, doesn’t recommend drinking too much of it.