We had Saoirse's 5th cycle of chemo this week. With a couple of convenience and comfortability hiccups, everything went smoothly. We went into Jimmy Fund and got started pretty quickly, and made sure that things were rolling over at the hospital so we could go over when she was done with chemo. The floor was full of kids, so we ended up in a double room on the dreaded A side, meaning a very small space and no window. It's a hard spot to be with Saoirse because we try to keep her on a tight schedule, and most other kids don't sleep as much as she does. But, we had no other option, so we made it work, and for the third night, Mike was able to go to an empty room with her and they got a good night's sleep. She took this round like a champ, and even kept eating and drinking through all of it. Whenever we go through chemo, we try to keep food in her stomach to help with the nausea. Sadly, chemo makes all food smell and taste different, and sometimes its hard to get Saoirse to eat willingly. This is where the art "force feeding" comes in.
It's not really forcing, per say. The first bite is the biggest challenge, and then after she gets a taste and remembers what it is, she usually will eat more willingly. There are certain foods she won't eat, the most prominent being eggs (they smell horrible - I spent my whole time on chemo not eating eggs hardly at all), but other than that, most of the time she'll eat a pretty balanced meal throughout the day. Distractions are a great way to get her to eat more than she thinks she's eating. The dog is great for this, as Saoirse will always look to see what the dog is doing (and will most of the time laugh or pant which means an open mouth for food!). games and books will sometimes work, but often times, especially in the hospital, we resort to PBS Kids - especially Curious George. Sometimes it looks like we're tormenting her, but getting her to eat is an important part of her getting better. I know some parents don't want to force their kids to eat, but I know that if she eats she will feel much better over all (this is also why I request that her chemo be run during the day so that she can eat while she's getting it). I can't bear the thought of her getting a feeding tube, and I know that if she doesn't keep food in her stomach, she will be more nauseous and therefor less likely to eat later. We have managed to keep her eating through all of her treatments so far, and she has gained three pounds since she was diagnosed. (This is also a good sign that the cancer is no longer taking so much of her nourishment, and hopefully no longer growing.)
One of Saoirse's favorite foods right now is goldfish, so we always keep them around. Many times, getting a few goldfish in when she is nauseous will make her stomach settle enough to eat something more. As we go along we figure out all sorts of little tricks, and now we are working on a new menu line up. She seems to want to eat more and more solid foods, and finding variety has proven to be hard without some planning. So, we have some items that we're planning on making, and I'm kind of excited about her new food repertoire. I'll post more when I've made some. I think maybe I'll post successful recipes too.