Monday, June 18, 2012

Nurse's Creativity Helps Child Battle Obesity

The nurse practitioner at the health department handed me a new referral. "Evan’s a healthy 6-year-old with Down Syndrome," she said. "No cardiac problems. He’s short with a body mass index at the 90th percentile. Can you make a home visit?"
Two days later I was sitting in the family’s apartment talking with Leslie, Evan’s mother, a stocky middle-aged woman wearing khaki slacks and a white T-shirt.
Dressed in a navy sweatsuit, Evan sat in the corner of the room in an oversized children’s rocking chair watching Sesame Street on television. A box of Cheez-Its sat on the table beside him.
Piles of men and women’s clothes were stacked on top of a sewing machine by the back wall. "I alter people’s clothes," Leslie said. "I have to work. We need the extra money."
I smiled at her. "Let’s talk a bit."
"There’s nothing a nurse can help with," she said. "Evan’s doing OK. So what if he has a little baby fat?"
"He’s really not a baby anymore," I said.
Leslie swallowed hard. "You don’t know what it’s like. I’m here every afternoon with him. Mornings, too, when he doesn’t go to school." She sighed. "Evan sits watching television while I sew. He loves to rock and eat. I know it’s bad for him but … ." Tears filled her eyes.

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