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Why I Dreaded Halloween as a Kid With a Trach and G-Tube

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With the arrival of fall comes heavy sweaters, leggings, boots, and my personal favorite, pumpkin spiced lattes. But with all of these lovely things also comes Halloween. Halloween is a time of year most children love. They get to dress up, knock on people’s doors and ask for candy. But I hated Halloween as a kid. I felt like Halloween was not a holiday that children like me, with G-tubes and who can’t walk far, could participate in. The whole holiday made me feel awful and more different than I already am.

As Halloween approaches and children (and fun-loving adults) get excited to put on wild costumes and get free candy, I back away and wish it never existed. As a kid, Halloween was terrible for me. I have a G-tube so I can’t eat oral foods, candy included. I have a trach, so I get sick easily, and because of my physical disability, I have a hard time walking. So every year I would feel miserable trying to take part in a tradition that wasn’t designed with kids like me in mind.

At the beginning of Halloween night, my brothers and I would get into our costumes and head out with our best friends to get candy. Before we were even down the driveway, I would already be left behind because they were running to the first house. If I was walking, I couldn’t keep up; if I was being pushed in my stroller, they wouldn’t wait for me. I had a hard time going up and down front steps, especially those without a railing to hold on to. As I couldn’t run to stay warm, I would get chilled long before anyone else did, but I wouldn’t complain because I didn’t want to wreck the fun.

When we got back home, we would dump all our candy onto the floor and divide it up. We would trade candy like kids with baseball cards. I, on the other hand, would wait until the end so the dreaded holiday would be over. I would dump my candy in the middle and pretend to care, but everyone knew that as long as I had one candy bar to suck the coating off of, I would be fine if they stole it. By the end of the night, I would have a fever, no candy, and I’d be sobbing. My only comfort was that because Halloween was over, Christmas was coming.

This happened to me every year. Yet, it wasn’t until recently that I learned my version of Halloween wasn’t just my version. There are tons of kids out there who can’t enjoy Halloween because of special diets and needs. They all watched their friends or siblings loving the holiday, but couldn’t be full participants. That’s why the Teal Pumpkin Project is so important.

This year, you can help make Halloween more accessible to kids who can’t eat candy for whatever reason. Put up a sign and have little toys on hand. I know if this existed when I was little, I would’ve hated Halloween a little less.

Originally published: October 11, 2016
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