Bribery

Everybody knows weight loss is a very slow process that is fraught with all sorts of problems such as will-power, genetics, metabolism and a myriad of other physical and emotional issues.

I’m here to tell you that weight gain can be just as frustratingly slow. After one month of packing every last calorie I can into anything and everything that enters Colman’s mouth, he didn’t lose weight. I counted that as a win. After the second month, he gained eleven ounces. This past Thursday when we went to the Hem/Onc Clinic at CHOSA, Colman had gained six ounces, so he’s now at a grand total of forty pounds, nine ounces.

This is a definite win, but it’s some major slow-going. After three months of busting my butt and coming up with inventive new ways to sneak in calories he won’t be able to taste, he’s gained a grand total of one pound, one ounce.

I’ve begged, cajoled, promised and threatened Colman to eat more. I do all of the things you’re not supposed to do in order to lose weight. I let him eat in front of the TV. I give him snacks right before bed. I put butter on everything. I’m buying chocolate Pop Tarts because Colman really likes them and one package is 400 calories. (I think I’ve hit rock bottom.) Add in a glass of whole milk and we’re up to 550 calories. And if he doesn’t look like he’s going to hurl, I put out a couple of pieces of bacon for him to snack on and that adds an extra 80 calories to bring his breakfast to a grand total of 630 calories. I don’t even count the strawberries or grapes he likes to snack on.

As far as lunch and dinner, we’ve been grilling lots of steak, lamb and hamburgers with starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes.

As a result of Colman’s new diet, I’ve pretty much quit eating meat. I’ve always been kind of grossed out by it anyway, especially if I have to touch it to prepare it. I totally get the heebie jeebies.

About two weeks ago, I added bribery (Say it like “shrubbery” from Monty Python) to my bag of tricks. I’m not proud of it, but, then again, I kind of am. I told Colman I’d pay him two dollars if he would drink one dark chocolate Ensure per day. He could drink it all at once or over the course of the day, but I would pay him two dollars. If he didn’t finish it, no money.

He didn’t drink one. Colman is very motivated by money. Was my price too low? He only gets an allowance of two dollars a week and that’s for keeping his clothes picked up and making his bed every morning. I thought he’d be all over it for two dollars. Maybe I didn’t take into account just how much he despises the nutritional drinks. He never spends any of his money because he says that’s wasting it, so I feel pretty confident that any money I pay him will go into his college fund.  So I renegotiated the price last week up to five dollars if he drinks one Ensure over the course of a day.

In the last eight days, he’s drunk seven Ensures and I’ve paid out thirty-five dollars. He usually waits until right before bed when he’s taking his night-time dose of Sildenafil and Lasix to chug an entire Ensure in less than two minutes. Then he holds his belly and says, “I think I’m going to puke.”

“You puke, I don’t pay,” I tell him and I wave a five dollar bill at him.

At that point, he usually asks me to pat him on the back for a minute.  He usually lets out a huge belch and feels much better. So much better, in fact, that he jumps and dances around with his five dollars and says something like “Five dollars will make me holler,” or “I’ll do anything for five dollars!”

Almost anything. Last week, Kevin made chore charts for Liam and Colman which pretty much set out what they do anyway as far as making their beds and picking up their clothes, but added setting the table for dinner or clearing off the table two days a week for each boy. The introduction of this chart didn’t go over so well with the boys and was met with a river of tears by Colman. At one point, Colman screamed, “Dad, you’re so cruel!”

“With the addition of these new chores, I will raise your allowance to five dollars a week,” Kevin said.

“I don’t care! Mom pays me five dollars a day for just drinking a shake. Why do I want to do all that work for five dollars a week? You can keep your money!”

Colman, that was your mama you just threw under the bus.

“You’re paying him five dollars a shake? Are you crazy? That’s like a hundred dollars a month!”

It’s $150 if he drinks one every day, which he won’t. I was sure I wanted to strangle somebody, I just wasn’t sure who.

Here’s my thinking: The average out-of-pocket costs for a heart transplant (with great insurance) are roughly $50,000. Bribing Colman with money that is only going to go in his college account to see if we can make any real progress towards our nutritional goals over the next three months? Maximum $450. Putting off transplant for a little while longer with Colman feeling good would be nice. But if that doesn’t happen having Colman sail through transplant surgery because his nutrition is at optimal levels would be absolutely priceless.

Plus after a week of shakes, he says they’re not really that bad. I may not have to pay for much longer anyway.

I can’t believe summer is almost over. It’s flown by really fast. We have a quick trip to Dallas planned before school starts and then we’ll come back to Meet-the-Teacher for Colman and junior school orientation for Liam.

Yikes!

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