The Mighty Logo

Ask Me Any Question About Her Special Needs — Except This One

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

This is a subject I’ve contemplated writing for a while now after many encounters pretty much anytime we go out to eat: my daughter, Karina’s, G-tube. Yes, I know it sounds scary, but really, it’s not. It’s actually saving Karina’s life.

Unfortunately, she cant eat through her mouth. It’s dangerous for her because of choking, aspirating and gagging. She has no jaw control and doesn’t know how to chew at all. So she gets her food in liquid form from her G-tube. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t she hungry? How can she be healthy on liquid only? Karina actually gets more calories per day then a typical adult who eats regular meals. And as far as the hungry part goes, well, she is getting her feeds throughout the day, so her tummy is constantly full.

Now I’m going to touch on something I see all too often: Pity. Please don’t pity her. Trust me, this is saving her life and has been the best thing the doctors could’ve even done for her. She’s basically been on liquids her whole life (seven wonderful years).

daughter in a wheelchair

When waiters and waitresses see my other kids and me eating at your restaurant, sometimes they bring an extra plate so I’ll give my other kid food to eat, or they ask, “Is your daughter going to be ordering also?”

But the most famous question I get asked everywhere is, “What’s wrong with her?”

Please be rest assured, she is indeed eating. You might not see the tube because it’s hidden, or maybe she already ate before we left because of her schedule.

To the people who stare and judge and make comments in a whispered tone so I cant hear you (I can totally hear you, by the way): I’m always open and welcome to questions, so ask away. I’d rather you come up to me and ask me things if you’re curious. Ask me why she’s in a wheelchair, or why she’s not eating or what that tube does.

Just please don’t ask me, “What’s wrong with her?” Something about that question just gets to me. Maybe it’s the tone in which it’s asked, or maybe I just get too defensive with that question because to me, there’s nothing wrong with Karina. Karina is special. She’s just a little different from others.

cheryl stewart and her daughter smiling

Originally published: July 7, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home