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Updated: 8th September, 2007

The Big Non-Eating and Non-Drinking Adventure
Robin decided that he didn't need food and drinking and persisted 10 and half months.
27th September, 2006 - 21th August, 2007
Updated: 8th September, 2007

1. Momentary anorexy

Robin is absolutely content with his decision...

On Tuesday, 26th of September, 2006, Robin has decided that our life was too monotonous and boring and without prior warning, stopped eating and drinking. Already for some days he had eaten less, but this was the day when he refused to eat totally. The next day it was already not possible to give him anything for drinking. Without anger, without aggression, but with clear intention - I don't need to eat and drink anymore.

Because of dehydration, we had to go to the hospital. Robin was there till Monday 2nd of October, with infusion; and his belief that food and liquids are worthless is unyielding. Our encouragement and trials to give him some liquids were unsuccessful. All the tests shown that he was physically absolutely OK. Also probing to the stomach through his nose was not successful.

Robin looked as if he was absolutely content with his decision. Smiling to the world, with no aggression, even when they tried to probe him and when doctors took blood samples. He cried a little and then was OK again. No bargain, promises, motivation through games, nothing worked.

We started to look for similar cases. From the despair of the first days we came into determination. In few days, we knew about some similar cases (even if there are not many of them) and we became to know what was the most important for us: not to push him, let him free choice, encourage him with love and acceptance of his decision. We needed to let him alive and go home to be able to work with him and to stop endless injections and trials when each internist needed to try if it was really impossible to give him food by force.

2. Psychiatry

Really healing environment

We were moved to another hospital because intensive care unit did not have possibilities to cure the psyche. And so we were moved to the place we will nightmare for a long time. The children psychiatry ward. We held back because we were afraid of this place but we were said that it was OK, they would know what to do.

Our fears were not exact. The reality was much worse than what we could suspect! In the children psychiatry ward, there are no conditions to leave Robin alive. They don't have tools (he was given infusions in a way that after one day spent there, he was dehydrated again), don't have space (Maggie was with him in the room together with two girls), don't have the environment (hopeless room with iron bars on windows and with literally one cage instead of the bed) and most of all, they don't have the attitude.

Robin was nervous all the day, his arm hurting since the canulla was there already for 5 days. We told the staff it should be changed to the other arm. "Yes, doctor will check it" was standard answer. Robin cried and didn't want us even to touch his arm. "Yes, doctor will come." It took 2 hours until doctor came. Then she said "We are going to exchange the cannula and you are not going with us!" "Why?" we asked. "Because it is better. Children behave differently when parents are not there." Of course, we didn't let them go. We know it already. Maggie came with him. The doctor pricked him then 6 times because she was unable to find the vein. It took her 20 minutes. It so tormented him that I didn't see him in such a state since his heart surgery. In a while, we found out that canulla was in his arm in a way that the water did not flow into his vein. Then we were shown: "Look, if you lift his arm a little bit up like this, it would flow". When I pointed out that Maggie would probably not sleep very well while keeping his arm in this very specific position, the nurse just said "Oh no, she will not need to do that." Of course she didn't need. If she wanted to dehydrate him again.

After all this, when Robin was painful as he wasn't long ago, they wanted to probe him in the evening. We said that not now - and the doctor straightened himself, said "OK" in rough voice and strode out of the room.

One little girl was unable to sleep withouth light switched on. So there was light and Robin could not sleep. When they at last slept off, at 10 o'clock, other nurses came to take some blood (to know what to give him into infusion). They switched light on again and tried to take his blood directly in the room, without any reference to other patients and woke up everybody. So what, they are only psychiatric patients.

All the environment was so depressing that I didn't understand how anybody could be healed there. When we spoke with doctors, we were said that drugs such as antidepressants will help him, that he is negativist, that they "will try" to give him food. In other words, they will try the same as we do better at home and they will give him antidepressants. It was clear that we could not stay there. And we were said that we do mistakes: we love him, but we should not do everything for him, for example to ask them to extend his canulla so that he could move in the bed or even walk some steps because he should feel punishment for his not eating. And that we are negativists because we don't want to accept their approaches.

3. Gastrostomy

After the surgery

We were considering to leave, signing the commitment. But it would probably result in social workers trying to take us Robin because we don't take care of him enough :-). So we waited till morning, knowing that we have to solve the situation. In the morning, we convinced surgical ward to take him and operate him. He got gastrostomy - the tube directly into his stomach. This was the only possibility except long-term stay in child psychiatry ward.

On Tuesday, we were moved to the surgery ward, on Wednesday, Robin was operated and we were at home on Thursday, at last able to work with him in peace home environment, without stress and without pushing him to anything. Psychiatrists probably don't understand why we prefer surgery to "pills", but I don't expect they would understand everything.

4. The adventure begins

After our arrival home, we had phone consultation with the Option Institute. After it and after what we learned from our friend from Maximum Impact, which experienced something similar with her son, we were very clear in what to do: we will not push Robin to anything, we will be persistent in offering food, but gently, will giving him full control over it and fully accepting his decision.

5. What's going on?

But why Robin has decided not to eat and drink? We considered this question since beginning. We tried to find the answer both in external circumstances and in ourselves. I don't know if we ever will understand it for sure, but we incline to one type of answers. External circumstances that could block him include his beginning going to school (but he was there only twice, always just one hour and Maggie was still with him - nothing so bad happened there), the fact that I used to be rather overextended in my work (but this has been already several months and after it improved, Robin didn't change his mind) or the fact that we had rather weak program last time (the same doubts apply here). These external explanations seem to us to be somehow shallow.

The second type of answers will be hardly digestable for many people because it is rather mythical. We tend to believe that Robin in fact does not have a problem. His decisions are leading somewhere, though we don't have to know now where. But he somehow knows what he is doing. Maybe not consciously and maybe somebody would call it that it is directed by God. In any case, it means that it is useless to look for problem in Robin. All it happens with some reason and has deep meaning. Robin is giving us unique opportunity to grow somewhere, to experience something, to move somewhere.

The fact is that we perceive all the life this way. If the life is just about good food and having a rest, Robin would make no sense. But we believe that there are other things that count. Maybe we are unbelievably blessed with the fact that we have him and have a possibility to grow. And this adventure somehow fit in this notion. We were given amazing opportunity and it is up to us if we take it.

One factor is also leading us towards this perceiving. Robin is in his decision absolutely content, peaceful, non-aggresive and has no problems with food - he plays with it, feeds us, he is interested in it. The fact that this factor is unique was confirmed also by people who know such cases. And our family friend which has been helping us for a long time (therapy called kinesiology) affirmes this perceiving.

The final truth to be this or that, it is up to us how we will perceive our situation. We can see it as terrible (who would wonder?), but we are choosing different vision. To this vision, to the inner calming and perhaps also to the shift of our program, we were helped by the next adventure which is related to this - The Outreach 2006.

6. August, 2007: The adventure's end.

The time went on. Month after month, Robin's decision was still the same. Our program went on too, directed often to eating games and we got accustomed to our changed life. Robin still loved eating, just not his own :-).

And then suddenly, on 21st of August, when we were at family holiday (in fact, the first time ever as a whole family), in beautiful cottage secluded in Czech woods, after 10 and 1/2 months of total hunger strike, I spotted Robi chewing the chocolade that he found in a drawer. What a beautiful sight! We offered him a glass of water - and he drank! After an hour he eat some blackberries. The same day - an apple, a nectarine, pancakes and half of Maggies supper :-).

From this time on, he eats as if he wants to make up for lost time, according to motto "I will eat everything and then a little bit more". Absolutely no problem with any food or drinking. And more - before this adventure, we had to feed him. Now he excellently holds a spoon or fork and most time eats by himself!

As amazing this is, it is also unaccountable. I must say that in summer, our program is wery weak. It is certainly not direct result of our program. On the other hand, we have had very fruitful months this year - not meaning just Robin, but mostly ourselves. We can see things we never saw, we broaden our horizons in a ways that are very encouraging. I am rather sure that this is part of what Robin needed or wanted. I also understand much more now, what total acceptance means - it was really ok for us that he did not eat or drink. But most of all, we sense that this was simply HIS decision. Maybe unconscious, but really his. All the program, all we or other people are trying to do, is just a tool.

Although the only certainty remains the fact that there is no certainty, this is a great time and we are really happy. Now it seems that our life is being renormalized and the very special adventure is over. We know how many of you were thinking of us - thank you for that. We hope that this decision of our son is not the last of this sort.


  • 27th September, 2006: Robin stopped eating and drinking.
  • 4th October, 2006: The gastrostomy was operated to his belly.
  • October, 2006: Our first trials - Son-Rise consultation and Teacher's Outreach.
  • 21nd August, 2007: Robin eats again.
The Non-Eating Adventure In Pictures

In the first hospital - the infusions. Robin is happy as he is.

"Healing environment" of Child Psychiatry Ward.

The tube in the belly.

Molly - Son-Rise Teacher Outreach.

Linda - Child Facilitator Outreach.

The Christmas 2006.

December 2006 - Robi and Chita.

In the playroom - a lot of games were about eating.

Nestling Robi.

Robi loved eating - just not his own.

Home Sweet Home.

Ronja and Robin before going to bed.

This is the place where Robin began eating again.

Solitude in the Czech woods.

The first gulp of water.

Blackberries - here we saw that he meant it.

He eat 1/2 of Maggie's supper in the evening.

Unlike before, now he eats mostly by himself.

And loves discovering tastes.

The feast - eating celebration.