On Monday we packed up and headed down to duPont for Angela's barium swallow study. When Angela was born she was taking a bottle but because of her incredibly poor suck she was not gaining weight and it was decided that a gastronomy tube would need to be placed. Although she was not showing signs of aspiration like pneumonia or choking, during the hospital stay for the tube placement they decided to do a swallow study because of her presentation -- they just couldn't believe that she was not aspirating.
Her original swallow study showed complete frank aspirations, which means that all the food that she was putting in her mouth was going directly into lungs during the test. This is obviously very bad. At that point it is a bit blurry. Seems Angela was made completely NPO, meaning she was not allowed to take anything by mouth. During that next year of her life she was not given the opportunity to do anything orally hence the extreme oral aversion when she came into our home in December.
As soon as Angela joined our family she started to take off developmentally -- she was gaining strength as the days went by so we really wanted to give her a shot at taking food by mouth. So this past week we gave her a second chance at the swallow study. They placed six small cups of barium all with different thinknesses ranging from thin liquid like water all the way up to a thick puree. Angela sat on the Xray table with the camera facing her head and they took video of the barium as it went down.
To everyone's surprise she was able to swallow and protect her airway on all the different consistencies -- this is huge, amazing news. The speech pathologist was totally surprised and the room was filled with so much excitement! Angela is a different child than she was just a few months ago, it's almost hard to believe!
We left the study with a go ahead to start feeding trials with Angela at each meal for 30 mins. She is allowed to take as much as she will tolerate in that 30min time frame, which has been about 1.5oz. So cool. I wouldn't say that she totally loves eating but she certainly is tolerating it. It's more just a battle of wills -- she doesn't like doing anything mommie or anyone actually makes her do -- so typical almost three year old behavior. She really does not know how to voluntarily swallow and move food from her tongue to the back of her throat -- she this is very hard work for her.
Feeding opens a whole new door for Angela in the world of development. Feeding is a huge benchmark for speech and sensory development, not to mention drool control. I am head over heals proud and in love with this little girl -- she is totally beating all the odds stacked up against her!