Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something for which to be Thankful

In the United States, this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Along with eating lots of turkey (designated "Fish for a Day" if you're following the Advent Fast), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, lots of food in general, and watching a football game, we're supposed to be thankful for our blessings. For the Pilgrims who first had a harvest feast of thanksgiving, this meant being very, very grateful to God that they were even still alive. For most people nowadays, I think the list of "Things for which to be thankful" tend more towards having family, having friends, and our physical possessions. Health doesn't always make the list, unless you or someone you know has recently recovered from a disease, or dealt with a disability.
I don't know anyone who says, "I am so thankful that I can swallow! I don't have to think about it or anything, I just take a drink and my throat does the rest! Wow!" And so I wanted to share that we have another thing for which to be thankful this Thursday! We had what should be Kittyboy's LAST EVER video swallow study today, and he is totally approved for thin liquids now! He can drink anything he wants without any thickener added whatsoever. He wouldn't cooperate with trying out an open cup, because he was getting hungry and impatient, but Joan, the speech therapist doing the testing, said that's the next step. When he's in a cooperative mood, we can offer him a little medicine cup or little paper cup with something he likes drinking, and let him figure it out on his own.
And we're also thankful that Joan was the SLT on duty at St. John's today, so that she could officially see him off! She was the one who got him started on bottles in the NICU when he was something like three pounds or so. She taught us how to mix and thicken his formula, how to prop him on his side, pace his breathing, watch his color, pound his back when he'd quit breathing, which invariably happened at least once a feeding, and all the complicated things that went into just giving our son a bottle back then. So it was really special that today she got to see him as a big, strong, capable toddler, drinking normal milk through a straw, without needing any accomodations whatsoever.
Add "the ability to swallow safely" to your list of things for which to be thankful. You probably never think about how your tongue, jaw, throat muscles, and epiglottis work together to keep liquid out of your airway and sinuses. You can drink from any bottle, can or jar, without having to put it in a special cup, without having to add anything to make it safer. Next time you're in a store and feel thirsty, be thankful that you can drink from a water fountain as if it's nothing. No one thinks of it, because it's so basic, but every purse I own has at least one packet of thickener in it somewhere, and we always had cups with us, because if we were out somewhere and he was thirsty, we HAD to have something in which to mix, and a straw for him to drink. Water fountains weren't an option. There WERE no options, without thickener and a straw.
At my parents' house, there is a huge container of over-the-counter thickener because on our first Thanksgiving weekend after Kittyboy came home, the unthinkable happened, and we ran out of packets. No thickener, no bottle for the baby.
THAT Thanksgiving, we were thankful for an open Walmart pharmacy that had thickener in stock, because the other option was driving two and a half hours home with him crying to be fed. THIS Thanksgiving, we are thankful that THOSE days are over.
God is good!

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