Monday, February 6, 2017

Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017: Comfort with the unlikely

Over the past two years I have found comfort in the most unlikely places, in a world I never knew existed, with items I did not know how to say or spell just two years ago.  One of the most challenging things we had to do for Sonzee was get her a feeding tube.  To do so we had to overcome our doubts, our judgements, our misconceptions, our fears, and all the negative connotations that come with a piece of medical equipment used to feed a child.  I personally struggled with what people would say, how she would look, the fear of her never eating by mouth again, and the fact that even though I knew deep down it was necessary, it was not so obvious to others, creating a huge cause of disagreement between Sam and me.  

It is almost a year from the day we nearly lost Sonzee while in the pre-operation room waiting for her gtube to be placed, immediately we doubted our decision leading me to want to forget the day that led to this post.  I wish the memories of that day were not so vivid in my mind.  I will not ever be certain that the chain of events that were set into motion from that day are not responsible for the battles she now faces with her stomach.  However, I do not know if we will ever be able to hold anything other than "CDKL5" responsible for the fact that she no longer can process food in her stomach.  The disaster of the original failed gtube surgery and later complications of the PEG tube placement did nothing to calm any of the negativity I felt towards feeding tubes, after all, Sonzee's condition only worsened after its placement.  Then in May as her life hung in the balances yet again, while being placed on temporary TPN, we had no choice but to allow the doctors to try the intestinal tube that goes through her nose into her jejunum.  

I was vehemently against any feeding tube that went into the nose and would be on Sonzee's face.  My background in speech therapy led me to know that there was a higher likelihood of her losing interest in eating by mouth, and the mom in me still wanting life to appear "typical" to others, knew that a tube on a child's face would be no different than walking around with a flashing red blinking sign.  It broke my heart to know people would look at her and at once feel pity, stare, or feel uncomfortable.  Ironically 8.5 months later I cannot imagine her being alive without this tube and the comfort and security I feel because of the tube on her face for others to see is the opposite of my earlier fears.  

As I take her out of the car, when I park in a handicapped parking space, I proudly place her in her stroller with her stroller=handicap blue placard that is hanging.  It is obvious we belong in the spot and that there is something not typical about her.  My fear of stares has turned into comfort and excitement that I will have the opportunity to spread awareness of CDKL5 and find comradery among others who have traveled a feeding tube journey.  For me, the tube that goes from her nose into her intestine has become a safety net, one that I am actually afraid of ever taking away.  For her, she does not know much before the tube, and she does not express any discomfort from it.  Her desire to eat is no less because of it, and she would eat all day if her stomach allowed her to.  While I wish her body did not need this tube for survival, there will always be gratitude and appreciation towards this piece of a rubber tubing that continuously saves our Sonzee bear daily.

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