Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

3/27/2014 (2 years ago)

Blessings In Brelinsky (brelinskyville.blogspot.com/)

Words like burden, trouble, or unwanted never entered our conversations.

As though it were yesterday, I recall the upset in their voices on the day they discussed the doctor's recommendation for a feeding tube. Considering the infrequency with which doctors actually bothered to speak directly to family members, I assume the news was delivered via the shift nurse. The tube was being ordered to better facilitate her nutritional needs. On a floor full of kids dependent on breathing tubes, drainage tubes and electronic monitors, a feeding tube was the next logical step. But to Misty's family, that step was leading in the wrong direction.

Highlights

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Blessings In Brelinsky (brelinskyville.blogspot.com/)

3/27/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Brelinsky, special needs, Misty, dignity of life, preferential love, preferential option, mercy, domestic church


ZEBULON,NC (Catholic Online) - Her name was Misty. It was printed in chalk on the nurses' station board along with a list of other first names. We would never actually meet, but I caught a glimpse of her one day as I walked passed her room. The mental picture I'd developed before that sighting was of course all wrong.

Just days into our month long stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, we met Misty's family: aunts,  an uncle, a grandmother, father and cousins. Now, almost nineteen years later, I've lost count, but there were enough of them to fill the room around us. Doubtful our paths would have ever crossed if not for the circumstances that forced us all into that tiny waiting room.

Naive, overwhelmed newbies we were, but Misty's family were well-seasoned veterans in this system of corridors, white coats and ever-changing prognoses. They took to us and us to them in a fast friendship that felt like it would last a lifetime.

In bit and pieces, through conversations and encounters over the next weeks, Misty's life story unfolded. Born to young, unwed parents, her mother died sometime before the baby would finish toddlerhood. Knowing she would never see her daughter grow up, Misty's mother had one dying wish; she made her sister swear to raise the child as her own. That little sister bore that promise with unswerving faithfulness and along with the rest of the extended family she committed the next fourteen years to caring for her sister's only offspring.

Sometime after losing the mother, it became apparent that Misty suffered from serious medical conditions which were the result of an under-developed brain. Her life would include many PICU stays and she would never know the freedom of spinning to "Ring Around the Rosie" or the joy of singing her ABCs. By the time we met her family, she was relegated to a bed, unable to speak or provide her own basic needs.

Surely some outsiders questioned her "quality of life". To a culture that equates physical fitness and mental capacity with the measure of a person's worth, Misty might have appeared a hopeless case.

Her family knew her better.

She loved it when her aunts and grandma fed her, they proudly boasted. At mealtimes, she rewarded them with smiles and eyes that spoke the words her mouth could not. And though the doctors and nurses insisted she was forever silent, Misty cooed for those who loved her. Rather than flowers and teddy bears, family members shopped for new, lace-trimmed nightgowns to make her not infrequent hospital trips more pleasant. Every day it was someone's job to brush out her long, flowing hair and wash her pretty face. True to her promise, Misty's aunt insured that someone always remained nearby.

Words like burden, trouble, or unwanted never entered our conversations.

As though it were yesterday, I recall the upset in their voices on the day they discussed the doctor's recommendation for a feeding tube. Considering the infrequency with which doctors actually bothered to speak directly to family members, I assume the news was delivered via the shift nurse. The tube was being ordered to better facilitate her nutritional needs. On a floor full of kids dependent on breathing tubes, drainage tubes and electronic monitors, a feeding tube was the next logical step. But to Misty's family, that step was leading in the wrong direction.

To the doctor, who probably spent five minutes reading her chart, this fourteen year old was a case study in medical interventions. To the busy nurse, Misty was another terminal patient with machines to monitor, levels to record and notes to take. The act of feeding her was just another necessary procedure to follow, but to her aunts and grandmother meals were so much more.

At the time I thought I understood their desire to retain this autonomy for Misty, the ability to taste flavors and feel textures across her tongue. But now that I've experienced the excitement of spooning first bites into my own little ones' open mouths, I can relate all the more to their desperate attempts to protect her mealtimes. Three times a day, Misty's family had the privilege to lovingly nourish her with food and she had the opportunity to feed their hopes and dreams. With my own not-yet-verbal children, I have to watch for their bodily cues to tell me if the food I offer is pleasing to their palate and when they've reached their fill. Feeding a child means moving in close, making eye contact  and connecting (physically and mentally).

A feeding tube meant more than simply relinquishing a chore, it meant stripping Misty of one more "normal" function. When you expect your child to grow-up, to advance through life's milestones, it's easy to take such little tasks for granted, but Misty's family didn't have that luxury.

On that day, walking passed her room, I peered in expecting to see the girl my mind had formed. Instead, the young girl of about fourteen appeared so tiny and fragile in her hospital bed. Her legs barely reaching beyond the midway point, she was no longer than a child of five or six. And that long hair flowed nearly the full length of her stunted body it seemed. I was startled by the reality.

The image I'd created was based on my idea of "normal" because that's how Misty's family portrayed her. The obvious love they had for her communicated a different picture, while my eyes sized her with a worldly measure. No one ever knew my surprise and for that I am glad because I am ashamed of it. My false vision betrayed my ignorance and bias.

Those few weeks, nearly two decades ago, changed my life. I lost touched with her family, so I never did learn whether or not they managed to protect her from the feeding tube directive, but I've never taken for granted the real importance of "feeding" my children.

Misty was truly everything that her family saw her to be. Beautiful. Worthy. Special. Perfect. And in my mind, she will forever remain larger than life not because of her stature, but because she personified Christ (the hungry Christ, the naked Christ, the imprisoned Christ) to those who took the time to see.

-----
Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of eight living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede. Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat, ducks, roosters and a flock of hens (in addition to all those wonderful kids). Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes simply for the the glory of God. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on her blog "Blessings In Brelinskyville" (www.http://brelinskyville.blogspot.com/).

---

personal blog



Comments


More Health

Doctor's orders - Do THIS to prevent a stroke Watch

Image of How can you prevent a stroke?

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Did you know 90 percent of all strokes are preventable? What would you do to live a longer, healthier life? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), ten risk factors can be modified to prevent 9 of ten strokes ... continue reading


Sticker Shock! Here's how much Obamacare REALLY costs, per person! Watch

Image of Obamacare is bitter medicine for those who have to pay for it.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

There's more proof the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable. The national tab for healthcare, per person now exceeds $10,000. It may be because the goal of Obamacare is to fail and push the nation into a socialist, single-payer system. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Antibiotic-resistant infections expected to kill Watch

Image of The misuse of antibiotics has led to a dangerous antibiotic-resistant gene (riskmanagement).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On May 18, a woman was treated with antibiotics. When the antibiotics failed to help, researchers took a deeper look and discovered a medical nightmare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research discovered a sample of ... continue reading


'Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells': Stem cells used to fight cavities and root canals? Watch

Image of Fillings and root canals may become outdated dental practices (dentalpro).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

We've all seen the hilarious videos of drugged-up people who just woke from root canal surgery; though the videos provided great laughs, they may become a thing of the past. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers from the University of Nottingham and the Wyss ... continue reading


'I'm perfectly well': Lifestyle change removes all symptoms of MS from man who refused to give up Watch

Image of George Jelinek beat multiple sclerosis (Fiona Hamilton).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

George Jelinek was 45-years-old when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis - the same disease his mother succumbed to after a 16-year battle. Rather than wait for the disease to run its course, Jelinek took action and discovered how to reverse its effects. LOS ... continue reading


More than 1.5 million Americans drop out of Obamacare as premiums rise Watch

Image of Keep paying your rising premiums, millions of unemployed Americans are depending on you.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Millions of people have dropped out of Obamacare as the price for insurance continues to rise. The government expects another, major rate hike in November. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The number of people enrolled in Obamacare has dropped from 12.7 million ... continue reading


Second American infected with invincible superbug, expected to infect MILLIONS Watch

Image of Drug resistant bacteria are spreading in the U.S.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Every 30 minutes, at least one person in the United States dies because of antibiotic resistant infections. Researchers have now discovered a dangerous gene in the infection of a second person that reveals these microbes are evolving rapidly and may soon evolve beyond ... continue reading


Social anxiety a thing of the past? Scientists observe OXT Watch

Image of Are your social skills lacking? It may be in your genes (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have you always been more of a loner than social butterfly? Science may have proven why that is. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists may have found a reason why you're more comfortable alone than at a party.According to a study conducted by the University of ... continue reading


Top 7 healthy summer snacks Watch

Image of If you live in a region where the summer heat drains the energy out of you, these healthy summer treats are right up your alley (Gina's Recipes)!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Take a look at our top seven beautiful, delicious and healthy summer snacks! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Images of sunny beaches, warm breezes, lake swims, ice cream and the laughter of children come to mind when we think of summer - but let's face it, we ALL ... continue reading


'We're sort of in a hard place': 234 pregnant women in U.S. diagnosed with Zika Watch

Image of Over 200 pregnant women in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the incurable Zika virus (Alamy).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

No one is immune - over 200 pregnant women in the United States have been diagnosed with the Zika virus. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new CDC report revealed 234 pregnant women in the United States have been diagnosed with the Zika virus.Thus far, three babies ... continue reading


All Health News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Why don't people like Hillary Clinton? Yale researchers have an answer!
  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: God, Thank you for keeping me together
  • Blessing of an Automobile HD Video
  • Shoulder Wound of Christ HD Video
  • 'I especially loved watching the baby walking himself out of the ...
  • St. Innocent I: Saint of the Day for Thursday, July 28, 2016
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, July 28, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be a man of strife and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence save me.3 ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 27th, 2016 Image

St. Pantaleon
July 27: St Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black ... Read More