It was the worst of times, and now it is close to the best of times.
His first Easter was spent in a hospital bed connected to all kinds of hoses, lines, electrodes and machines while swaddled in a blanket that eliminated virtually any movement. He shared the bed with enough species of stuffed animals to make Noah proud.
Add to this mix the fact that he had, in his approximately five months of life, spent more time in the hospital than he had at home, and you have a good idea of a little boy’s first Easter.
That little boy is our youngest grandchild, Kinzler, and he has a condition that required him to have a tracheostomy put in to help facilitate his breathing. The idea of a child having a trach is, at best, totally overwhelming – especially in the beginning.
You imagine all kinds of things happening, none of which are good. His mom and dad quickly completed the training required to bring him home after receiving it, and that is when the real education began, thanks to Kinzler.
The doctors said most “trach babies” had to have a feeding tube put into their stomach since many couldn’t take a bottle. Kinzler didn’t get that message and had no trouble at all with a bottle and not too much later baby food. Now he eats just about any food he wants, along with assorted non-food items from time to time, just like any toddler.
His favorite foods seem to be of the mixed variety like mashed potatoes and gravy combined with cheese-bite crackers and maybe a couple of pieces of apple … or just about anything else that fits with his not-too-fancy or discerning palate.
The doctors said he wouldn’t be able to make sounds due to his trach, but Kinzler didn’t get that message either. It wasn’t long until he was able to “talk around his trach” and even say some words. With his “talking” and the use of a little sign language, he has absolutely no trouble communicating his desires and intentions.
Now we’re nearing the best of times.
Last week he was at the doctor for them to decide whether he was ready to have his trach removed. It was decided that although there had been marked improvement in his condition, it was still too early to remove it. He will be reevaluated around next Easter.
Disappointment was the initial reaction, but everyone immediately realized it was for the best.
So this was the second ‘trached Easter’ for Kinzler. The good thing about the situation is that if Kinzler could express his feelings, I believe he would say:
“What is wrong with everyone else? Why don’t they have a hole in their throat with a tube coming out? Why aren’t they able to stick a finger in their trach and make a sound that drives Mom up the wall?
“And what’s all the fuss about about having a trach? I’ve got one, and I’m just fine, thank you.”
We’ll make it another year, little one, and we’ll be just fine as long as you keep that nearly constant smile on your face. That’s what keeps all of us old people going.
No matter how long the Man Upstairs lets me stay around, I will never be able to teach Kinzler the types of things he has taught me in the last 17 months.
Mack Thweatt is a Messenger photographer and proofreader.