At our last appointment with our son's gastroenterologist, we were talking about his progress, and the doctor said, "Well, at least he is stable now." We all seemed pleased, and it wasn't until the trip home from the appointment when I wondered, "Just when did we turn the corner that I was happy with my son being stable?" Previously, our goals for my son revolved around him being totally off medication, eating anything he wanted, sleeping through the night, and actually getting a cold that lasted only three days without it turning into something else.
What I have learned over the last five years, is that the idea of "health" is something that is determined by you and your family, with the help of a knowledgeable healthcare team. Most people familiar with gastroesophageal reflux disease understand that not all illnesses, especially reflux, can always be cured. Some chronic illnesses are just managed very well. Sometimes, a realistic treatment goal is not to cure the person of the disorder, but to help the individual do the things he or she would like, such as work, or go to school or play with friends.
As I write this, it seems so obvious that the goals we set need to be achievable. If not, these unrealistic goals can lead to constant frustration and disappointment. However, it is in the unknowing of so many factors that makes goal setting harder than one would think. Sometimes a doctor really doesn't know whether or not a baby will outgrow reflux, or if a certain dosage of a medication will prevent acid breakthough at night. And, as they say, time changes everything. Individuals change and grow, and acceptable medications and dosages evolve.
Maybe goal setting is just one more reason to make sure you are working with a doctor who has experience with the unknowns of acid reflux and the changing nature of individuals and illnesses, but one who is also a good enough communicator to help you and your family set as realistic goals as possible.
Published On: April 02, 2008