Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beyond Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It's the end of the day and harmony and calm has descended upon our house at last.  Children are asleep, hubby is pottering, dishes are done, and thankfully our stomachs are full.

Have you ever doubted that dreams can come true? If you have, then doubt no more.  Yesterday was the final day of the Intensive Eating Program my little T the Brave has had to endure.  Three full weeks of a team of specialists, doctors, psychologists, speech specialists, and physical therapists, skillfully guiding him on a brutal journey to try to get him to eat.  It's hard to believe, the most primal and instinctual of human functions just doesn't work for him.

Perhaps it's five months of having tubes threaded down his airways, through his mouth and nose into his lungs, perhaps it's five months of being fed through a tube, or perhaps it's two years of oxygen lines attached to his face that have fed his aversions to anything coming near his mouth.  Perhaps it's 5 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and 4 stays in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the span of 18 months that has fed his attachment to his bottle.  I don't know, but I sure know that if anyone in this world has the right to reject anything oral, including food, then it's Thomas.

Nonetheless, at two and half years old, it's time to eat.  This little guy simply had to find a way past his fears and aversions if he wanted a normal, or near normal crack at life.  A gastric feeding tube has been looming over him for some time now.  His weight was beginning to plateau and a liquid diet of specialty formula just wasn't giving him enough of what he needs anymore.  Two years of Occupational Therapy, desensitizing him and teaching him to hold a spoon has helped, but still he couldn't eat.  It was clear Tommy needed a lot more than that and thanks to the Center for Disabilities and Development at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, he got it.

Three solid weeks of intensive therapy, with one goal in have Thomas sit at our Thanksgiving table and eat with his family for the first time in his life.  Well, today our humble dream came true.  Thomas can eat now, not like most other kids and certainly not like a regular 2yo, but he can eat.  Not only can he tolerate a spoon of food coming toward his mouth, but he's actually opening his mouth and taking the food voluntarily.  It may not sound like much, hell, every living creature on the planet eats, but to our little family, to this incredibly brave two year old who has fought a battle for life far greater than anyone can imagine, it's a huge deal.  And to sit at our table tonight was pure joy, I wish you all could have been here.

So I'm thankful.  Thankful to the team of medicos and specialists who persevered with their treatment, not only helping Thomas, but holding the hand of his terrified and emotional mother along the way. I'm thankful to the friends, family, and especially my blog followers who stood on the sidelines cheering him (and me) on.  I thankful to my hubby and daughter who bounced along through their days, keeping it real for us every afternoon when we tumbled in the back door after a long and arduous day. And I'm especially thankful for my love of art and my need to create.  It's this that has kept me centered, focused and optimistic.  My art really is my happy place and I'm thankful that I have been able to escape to my sketchbook every evening and reconnect to the courage and calm that I needed to face the next day.

So, this page in my art journal was done bit by bit over the past week, once again using Twinkling H2O's.  I've been working on lots of new pieces for my upcoming workshop and in these pictures you can see how 'twinkly' these paints really are.

Well, thank you to those of you have taken the time to vote for my blog on The Blog Guidebook's Top Blog of 2011, you still have until midnight on the 25th, so click here to vote if you can.  I'm 4th from the bottom and you can vote on multiple devices if you have them. Anyway, I'll leave you with these pics of Thomas enjoying his first Thanksgiving feast.

I hope you all had a wonderful, love-filled Thanksgiving, wherever you are in the world.  Thanks for checking in. xx