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    • Caro Smit
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      Being a dietitian I am faced with a much heavier emotional load than what I originally signed up for. No one told me the emotional, social and physical feelings that goes together with food. Yes sure, we are taught how to assist in eating disorders, NCD’s and other diseases. Also the various routes of feeding. One thing is for sure, when we need to feed our patients, we will make a plan… until working in the paediatric oncology ward.

      A ward filled with smiling, bold faces that runs around or some kids that are not having such a great day (just received their chemo, etc). A ward where the challenges are much deeper than what we see. A ward where the parents are coming in day-to-day to sit next to their child’s bed and praying for a better day and a cure while knowing they need to be at work in order to pay for food, etc. A ward where humanity is important and putting down a feeding tube to feed isn’t always the best practice.
      And then you get the dietitian that just so desperately wants to feed all of them the right nutrients at the right time. While in hospital AND most importantly when they are discharged. We frustrate the family and the team sometimes, because the patients keeps on losing weight, or the patient keeps on refusing meals. Remember, we are the ones that sits with the patients and the families trying to figure out how to get nutrients in every patients body in order for the medication to work. We hear their frustrations with food, work, travel arrangements, etc when we share our concern for their child that is not eating. We get to know the emotional and physical challenges when it comes to food.

      There are several teams that jumps at the opportunity to assist our kids with food, toiletries, Christmas boxes filled with food. That assists us definitely with the emotional aspects of food, as well as the security. But what about the physical? What about the right food to assist in building the immunity, filling the muscle stores to ensure increased tolerance for the next chemo session?
      The main thing I’ve learned is together with the nurses, doctors and physiotherapists is to EDUCATE! To educate the family and the patient on food groups, to educate them on how important food is to fuel the body, how important it is to still grow… even on the not so good days. Educate the family to buy the appropriate food.
      Education with a team definitely makes it better for the patient.

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