Years ago I traveled all around the Ukraine in a small group—visiting programs, hospitals, and institutions for people with disabilities. Throughout my travels I met some of the happiest people in world in some of the most depressing environments; and I was continuously stuck by the many warm welcomes and ceremonies involved. At each location we were greeted with a large loaf of bread; usually the loaf was elaborately braided with flowers weaved in throughout. It was covered in a sugary glaze and in the center a small, hollowed out spot where a bowl of salt would sit wedged inside. We would break off pieces of the sugar-glazed bread and dip into the salt. To this day the symbolism of it all still resonates with me—sometimes life is sweet, sometimes not.
Experiencing joy in life was something that Matt hoped to achieve this year. When we first met him— his former agency was struggling, and we took on the responsibility of overseeing their homes in January 2017. Matt had one wish, to eat again! As a precautionary measure— he was receiving his meals through a feeding tube, and we really didn’t know if we could help make his dream come true. Feeding tubes are a great example of medical technology that can help; but as with all technologies or treatments, it’s a very good idea to ask if it is still needed, or ask if there is another or better way to overcome a challenge.
We proceeded to get speech therapists involved, and we had new evaluations done on Matt’s ability to swallow safely. Over time, his doctor gave him the green light to start on some solid food—pureed of course, and we kept the feeding tube as well. I saw a picture of Matt’s birthday “cake” this year—a tasty, creamy concoction. Matt’s weight was monitored, and he kept gaining as we had hoped he would. He kept progressing—more food and less supplements by way of the feeding tube; and his health was very good throughout the process. Next week, the feeding tube comes out! Most people believe that once a feeding tube goes in, there is no going back; while that may be true sometimes—not always!
Matt was warmly welcomed into our care, and we helped make his dream come true. When you think about the year ahead, be on the lookout in your own lives for statements you make like “that will never change.” When we say that, we make it true; but there are just as many stories that prove otherwise— hope works.