Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One week is in the books

One week ago yesterday, Braska had her last tube feeding. I thought we were going to have to change that yesterday, as she really wasn’t in the mood to be drinking. I’ve said before, and it’s not overstated, that to make her mouth, tongue, throat, and all the incorporated muscles of lesser known names work together and allow for her to take fluid in and swallow it properly is a lot of work for her. It does not come naturally. It is not a reflex. She does not “just get it” now, she is working hard to get it. Very hard.

At times, when she’s holding a mouthful of milk, just sitting there, waiting for me to take the sippy cup away, her eyes will go from side to side, her neck twitches and moves, her jaw slides from side to side or clenches a bit. It’s all like a bit of quiet chaos as she tries to organize everything in order to get that swallow done right, without choking, and allow more drink to come in. It’s a very slow process.

Don’t think that she’s just up and guzzling down her fluids. To get about 4 ounces in her takes about 10 to 15 minutes of constant work. She gets a break and then it is time to try again, with either more fluids or something to eat. We have to do food/drink in staggered amounts because she doesn’t hold very much at one time.

Because of that, the non-use of the tube has definitely created more work for me, and for M when he’s in the feeding role. Much more time is devoted to getting her food/drink in orally than when we can rely on the tube. But we are sticking with it, and she hasn’t fought us too hard yet. I think we can get there, even if it is slowly.

We’re already in to this process almost 5 years. Now we’ve got one week toward the next chapter… I’ll take that.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mommy report: Two days. Tube free.

Short and sweet.

Braska has had no tube feedings since Tuesday morning.  None on Wednesday, and none on Thursday.  She had 20 ounces of fluid yesterday, and about 23 today.  All oral.  Hard to believe, even though I’m right here for all of it.

It’s a struggle, but she’s showing improvement each day.  She hasn’t asked for “milk in my belly” at all, a favorite request of hers. 

I’m exhausted, but it’s ok.  Though the effort required of me at each feeding/drinking encounter multiplied greatly versus the super simplicity of the g-button, she’s the one doing all the work.  It is really hard for her, but she is managing like a champ.

Practice practice practice. Drink drink drink. That’s what’s on our schedule.

Oh, and tomorrow morning is our follow-up appointment from the May eye surgery. Expecting to plan for the date of the next one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mommy report: BIG news for a little girl

Kids eat. Kids drink. That’s what kids do. It’s built in. They just know how.

But mine doesn’t. Well, one of them does, but the other one, the older one, the way-tiny-for-her-age one doesn’t. (We will find out tomorrow if we’ve made our summer goal of 25 lbs! It’s going to be close…)

She’s been in feeding therapy for over 4 years. She’s made progress. Lots of it. But it’s VERY slow going. But this isn’t about that. (If you want more details about our feeding journey, please feel free to ask. I’m happy to address particular questions.)

We’ve been working on Braska’s oral liquid intake more diligently since the spring. The team initiated offering frequent drinks during her school day, between each activity, trying to increase her oral intake. She is up to about 3.5 to 4 oz a day (9am - Noon each morning). That’s a very VERY big improvement from a year ago! She only takes sips, like a mouthful at a time, (from a sippy cup with no valve) then she has to let go of the cup and swallow. This is done with assistance to hold the cup. Although she CAN hold it and take a drink, she is not at all motivated to do so on a regular basis. She will occasionally ask for a drink, take a couple of sips, and then be done. So we are still using her g-button for her fluids.

Yesterday, we had a bit of a discovery. I learned that Braska was keeping a little trick just for Miss A in class at school. She was taking continuous drinks. Like without letting go of the sippy cup, swallowing and then taking in more. This is HUGE! There is no way to describe what a big deal this was for me to hear.

So we tried it a little in feeding therapy yesterday, and I did it again last night a couple times. The trick, we were told, is to sing ABCs or some such song while holding the cup up for her. This is no surprise since singing is often a hit and a motivator for her. Last night she took about 5.5 oz orally, and I was thrilled!! It is A LOT of work for her to do, and it’s still a slow process, but she’s doing it!

Today, she took about 3 oz at school again, then when we got home, I offered her milk via cup several times. She was willing to tolerate me holding it up for her to try to swallow. No doubt, some does leak out when she struggles with it, but she is taking in far more than she’s losing. This afternoon, she took 6 oz from her cup in a matter of just about 10 minutes! I was SO excited!!!

BUT… that wasn’t all…

Tonight, she came and asked for milk. I took her in and set her on the counter in the kitchen, and we did several drinks. She didn’t lose hardly any, and I found a good rhythm of how long to push her and when to give her a break. She took ANOTHER 6 OUNCES!!! So from noon to about 9pm, she had 12 ounces orally!!!!!

I hesitate lately to even write about these things, because we have found that even people who have “feeding issues” under their belt are light years ahead of us in the journey. We’ve yet to meet anyone who has a situation quite like ours, with the limited fluid intake ability combined with the general non-interest in food (though that’s improving here too) AND the inability to chew at all at her age of almost 5. Zero. Zilch. We cheer lately when she closes her teeth on something, and it is good. But we’re a long way from handing her a french fry and watching her eat it.

So it’s ok if you can’t imagine what this means or truly empathize. You can still celebrate with us as we dance around in the kitchen and hoop and holler about the strides this girl is making.

This is HUGE!!