Kim Henderson – An unexpected new lease on life


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham.  Here’s WORLD Radio’s Kim Henderson on pleasant surprises from the One from Whom all blessings flow.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: I bawled like a baby after I told the doctor “yes” and signed those forms. Yes, we knew she needed one. Yes, we knew it was time. But in my mind a feeding tube was a death knell, a mysterious end-of-life tether to all things diminishing.

Sometimes you’re wrong.

My 87-year-old mother still blames the whole thing on high heels she wore to church that day. But the path to her procedure included a bad fall, brain surgery, and all the related rehabilitation. What it did not include was adequate caloric intake. Despite our best efforts, Mom wouldn’t eat. The tipping point finally came about two weeks post op.

I was stretched out on the couch at the rehab center when I overheard them. A pair of nurses were discussing the numbers showing up on a weighing device connected to Mom’s bed.

“. . . came in at 123 . . .”

“ . . . down to 109 now . . .”

The next day found us in a surgical suite. A kind lady in blue scrubs told us about adult food formulas and asked me if Mom vaped. (That would be a negative.) She then explained that the feeding tube would be the common, garden-variety type. Less than an hour later, Mom had the latest abdominal accessory. And a new lease on life.

Dad and I had a lot to learn about continuous feeding pumps, but the payoff was nothing short of miraculous. With the right nutritional intake, Mom made a major turnaround. She even started talking again. Her therapists were shocked.

When my brother called that weekend, he and Mom had a full-blown conversation. Before that, the discourse had simply been long, yawning syllables.

“Wow!” he gushed after their extended call. “What’s happened? This is wonderful.”

I credited the wonder-working power of food and prayer, not necessarily in that order.

In time we went home, where a truck unloaded a month’s worth of Mom’s liquid meals. We settled into a new normal, a daily cycle of four timed feedings. But Dad was determined to get her eating again. He cooked oatmeal for breakfast and made her eat a few bites. I stocked their fridge with her favorite chili and delivered beefed-up bedtime smoothies. Gradually her feedings were replaced by a real meal here, a real meal there.

A crackerjack nurse named Renee had Dad weigh Mom each morning. Slowly the numbers rose, finally hitting and hovering at an acceptable 116 pounds. And then the big day dawned. Grinning from ear to ear and talking 90 to nothing, Mom arrived at the doctor’s office. Precisely three months after getting her feeding tube, she left it behind. And never looked back.

Renee has been at the home health nursing bit for a while. She said she’s never had a patient who was able to have a feeding tube removed. Until Mom.

May that encourage whoever else is out there signing forms and hearing death knells. Sometimes God is pleased to surprise.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.


(Photo/Getty Images)

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One comment on “Kim Henderson – An unexpected new lease on life

  1. Gaye Clark says:

    As a nurse, I have seen how the frequent misuse of a procedure often taints its helpfulness.
    Patients who have little or no hope of recovery are often giving a feeding tube which becomes part of the patient’s unnecessary and prolonged suffering. This has occurred so often that many people associate feeding tubes with a grim diagnosis, void of hope. Thank you for reminding us that life-saving, and perhaps more importantly, life giving measures are still a gift when used in the proper context.

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