Acid Reflux and Art Therapy: What washable paint taught me about Ella's pain!


    Ella's painting of her tummy ache!


    I just had to share this picture with all of you at Health Central's Acid Reflux site. Last night I was trying to keep the girls busy in that time frame between finishing dinner and getting ready for bed. My husband's work hours consist of him being gone the majority of the time the girls are awake.   I am getting creative at keeping them busy without them being too wild.  Last night we painted pictures on the kitchen floor with washable paint.

    This picture is what our refluxer Ella painted.  Ella was grinding the brush into her paper and flinging paint as she painted her picture.  Much different than what her sisters were doing.   She didn't look mad, just determined.  I was sitting there painting with the girls so I asked her what she was painting. She said that it was a picture of her tummy hurting. (The top left being her tummy and the bottom right being, ahem, other issues).

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    Most of you know we tried to wean Ella from her GI medicines again.  We were down to half a dose and were waiting to see how she was going to do.   She did not do well last time but it has been several months, the last time we tried was this past summer. Her pediatrician suggested trying it once more so we did. It has not been good. She started with the wet coughing pretty fast but we wanted to give it more time just to be sure. I know sometimes the transition is hard even if they CAN be weaned. So, against my better judgment, we went ahead and waited a few more days.

    Ella ended up choking and aspirating on her stomach contents. She couldn't breathe and was just turning colors and staring at me bug-eyed.  I am sure a lot of you with reflux babies know exactly the face I am talking about. I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing that kind of look again. Thankfully at 3.5 Ella is much better at coordinating her cough to get stuff up. We are now watching for fever but think she coughed everything out.

    After that episode she started crying (and she is not a complainer or crier) and begged me for her "medicine to fix it". It is good that she can articulate her pain in some ways and so sad in others. We went back to the full dose on her medicines. She is not feeling 100% but we are hopeful she will show some improvement in the coming week.


    I wanted to share this story with you because I want you all to know that you are not alone in this struggle and that even those of us who are labeled "experts" still have rough days.  I turned, yet again, to the wonderful parents at PAGER who continually offer their support!  For which I am eternally grateful.


    I also think that when you have toddlers, that can not articulate completely how they are feeling, art can be a wonderful tool.  It had not been on my mind the night we started painting but in hindsight it is a wonderful way for a child to express their pain.  I wish I had thought of it sooner!  It's a fun activity to do with your children and if it teaches you something about how they are feeling than that is an invaluable lesson!


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    Related resources:

    Talking to your child about acid reflux symptoms

    GERD in a Child's Words

Published On: November 24, 2008