Certain medical conditions require people to use a feeding tube. Many of those people are children who rely on feeding tubes to get the nutrition and hydration they need to grow.
Jackie Salzwedel has two children, a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. They have both relied on feeding tubes due to severe reflux. Her oldest daughter got her feeding tube taken out last fall, but her youngest still uses one.
"The first time around, I was so desperate for them to fix her that whatever they would have told me to do I would have said do it. The second time around it was a lot harder because I didn't know if she really is that sick and I'm just comparing her to the other one, did she really need it? But she definitely did so I'm glad we went forward with it," Salzwedel said.
Her daughters can eat baby food with assistance, but each had a difficult time drinking fluids on their own. Thankfully, her oldest no longer needs help to get the nutrition she needs.
“She eats and drinks normally and so once it's out, it should be done. We shouldn't have to deal with it anymore," Salzwedel said.
Though the experience has been difficult, Salzwedel and her family have managed to overcome the challenges they faced with using feeding tubes.
"It's hard in the beginning, but I mean, it's definitely something that is do-able, it's you know, it's not a bad thing and it's not considered failure. It's doing what you can to make sure that you're child is healthy," Salzwedel said.
The second week in February was designated as "Feeding Tube Awareness" week. Salzwedel says she hopes to continue to connect with others who are going through the same thing.
“It was kind of slow going in the beginning I didn't know many people but just through time and through Facebook, through different things, I have met a few people and my goal now, now that I've been in it for so long, is to be that support person for someone else,” Salzwedel said.
Feeding Tube Awareness Week provides a way to connect tube feeding families and those who are going through similar situations so families feel less alone.