Dominic suffers from pica, and has done since his long hospital admissions started. Having pica means that, for no apparent reason, he eats non-food items. The common misconception is that it's because he is tube fed. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that, and he will still do it, even if he is allowed unlimited lollies (or tutti fruttis or whatever it is that he wants to taste). It started when he was very small and regularly traumatised in hospital. And really came to a head when, in the middle of an operation to re-do his fundoplication, then pulled out a whole load of Elastoplast, and medical gauze from his stomach. No one has ever actually offered any help to resolve it, despite me asking every professional at Great Ormond Street that I've come across repeatedly. It generally settles a little when he's out of hospital for a long period of time, but it is still the behaviour that he falls back on when he is anxious as it seems to comfort him. Now he's older, he fully understands why he shouldn't, but can't stop himself, even when it really hurts him to do.
Currently I'm having to watch him all the time as he keeps eating his hickman line dressing and nappy (oh and poo, but we don't talk about that one). No one seems to have come across it before in a child without learning difficulties. Unfortunately the fact that he is bright means that he is incredibly good at hiding it, but completely understands why he shouldn't be doing it. It's like he's addicted