I click the “well child” diagnosis because that is technically the code I am supposed to check for insurance to cover this physical, but this child isn’t “well” at all.
It has become a weekly, sometimes daily, occurrence that I see a child in my office who looks just like her:
- Between the ages of 5-10
- Drinks mostly Koolaid and sodas all day, every day
- “Eats like a pig all day” which the parents laugh about
- Parents describe her as “active”, and by that they mean she sometimes goes outside and rides a four wheeler
- Weighs 100-200 lbs, putting her in the >99th% for weight
- Blood pressure 145/94, which gives her with a diagnosis of Stage 2 hypertension
A more accurate diagnosis would be:
Child who feels “well” right now but will likely have diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and early kidney disease by the time she is 20, is likely to be on dialysis by the time she is 40, and will likely die around the age of 50.
I’m not exaggerating.
I’m not sure what to do about it.
I’m not sure I can do anything about, but I’m going to try.
Besides being sad for this sweet little life who may not get to live to her fullest potential, I am sad for our entire country. The cost of health insurance is going to skyrocket beyond where it already is. We are paying for preventable problems. As the price increases, the number of health professionals is decreasing because students have no desire to pursue this field where their every move is monitored and influenced by insurance companies, and they can’t even make enough money to pay back the loans it took to get to that point. But that’s an entirely different post.
Back to this sweet little life. It is not completely her fault. How could she understand how eating all the yummy Little Debbies and drinking all the Cokes in her pantry could lead to insulin resistance, plaque buildup and kidney dysfunction?
I can’t completely blame the parents either. They don’t really understand it. They are familiar with the words “hypertension” and “obesity”, but most assume that the worst that could happen is that their child will be put on medicine and will feel self-conscious when they put on a bathing suit.
Catch them while they’re young, Kristin.
This is one reason I got in to pediatrics, to prevent kids from developing the problems I saw in family practice. But I see the same diagnoses now that I did with the adults.
It’s too late.
So now what?
I get it. I still struggle with sugar cravings and give in frequently, but I try not to overdo it. And I’m in a constant battle with the boys begging for fruit snacks and Capri Suns. I don’t deprive them of sweets, but I am determined to limit the intake because I don’t want their lives to be limited by health problems.
But how to get other parents to understand? It’s my job, and I feel like I’m failing.
This is a complicated question with multiple answers. The only thing I know to do is keep trying. If I only change one life this whole year, that is one life that may go on to fulfill a greater purpose than I can fathom. And I will have played a part in that life, although I may never know it. And that’s ok.
Are you discouraged in what you are doing today?
Are you a teacher who feels bogged down by the paperwork and the standardized tests to the point where you feel like you aren’t making a difference?
Are you a mom who feels like you are constantly repeating yourself and the kids don’t seem to absorb any of the good things you’re trying to instill?
Are you a ministry worker who feels stuck under the weight of unkind and unsupportive people who are supposed to be encouraging you in your work? Do you feel like you can’t get past the scrutiny to positively impact anyone’s life?
Are you a volunteer who feels unnoticed and unappreciated?
We can’t always see the effects of our persistence. But trust that, if you continue in your daily effort to wipe noses and grade papers and teach God’s word and instill discipline and…fill in the blank…., good will come. It may not come NOW, but it will come. Keep loving. Keep praying. Keep giving. Keep teaching.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Please tell me where you’re struggling with persistence today.