14 April 2013

Bennett's Best Friend

This is Bennett's best friend, Parker.  Parker is the son of our friends Dana and David (whom you might know as the family we know and love in their own current fight against brain cancer).  Bennett and Parker, both who are three years old and in the same preschool class, are best buddies.  
The boys are absolutely adorable with each other.  They are surprisingly very good at sharing and genuinely enjoy playing with each other.  They love playing with cars, running around in circles and playing with blocks.  It's pretty fun to see them build a friendship outside of the one Dana and I have.

Anyway, knowing that Bennett and Parker are best friends made the following story even funnier when I heard what happened...

Last mid-morning Monday, I received a phone call from Bennett's teacher.  This doesn't usually happen so I figured it was something important.

She said in her calmest but concerned voice, "Breck, are you busy?  Bennett's g-tube came out.  He's doing fine.  But I need you to guide me on how to put it back in."

This was the first time ever Bennett's g-tube had come out at school.  And probably the first time in a more than a year it had come out at all.

Bennett's teacher, whom we love, was incredibly calm but I could tell underneath she was feeling a little stressed as she knew this was important.  Bennett and two other teachers were apparently in the room with her when she called me.

Bennett's teacher and I had gone over what-to-do-if-the-gtube-falls-out procedures as well as some things she needs to be acutely aware of (such as the time limit of putting the g-tube back in and the use of Vaseline to make placing it back in the hole to his stomach easier).  But it had been a while since we had talked about this so we were both a bit rusty.

Nonetheless, I walked her through the process as gently as I could.

I said, "ok, lie him down."
I overheard her direct Bennett to lie down.
"Ok," she said, "he's lying down."
I said, "do you have the g-tube and the syringe?"
She affirmed she did.
I said, "just put the syringe on the side of the g-tube and suck out the water."
His teacher did as I suggested.
"Ok," she replied.
"Now, place the g-tube back in his tummy," I responded.

I listened intently through the phone to hear signs of Bennett crying or moaning in pain.  I imagined how scared he might have been feeling with all these teachers fussing over him trying to replace his g-tube.  I felt a bit like a 911 Operator waiting for indication the people on the other end were ready for my next set of instructions.

"Ok, it's done!  It's in there!" I heard Bennett's teacher say.
We all cheered!

I was so proud of Bennett.  He did not cry at all and had been so very patient.  I was equally proud of his teacher who so valiantly went from being a teacher to being a nurse in those few moments on the school floor.  And I was super happy to know we weren't going to need to make a trip to the ER - all of us could carry on our day as normal!

Several hours later, when I picked up Oliver and Bennett from preschool, I congratulated Bennett's teacher on her work well done and asked her what exactly happened.  She explained that Bennett had just happened to have put his shirt up a few times exposing his belly (something he typically doesn't do) which revealed to her and the teacher assistant that Bennett no longer had his g-tube in his belly.

I turned to Bennett, who was now buckled in his carseat in the car ready to go home from school, "Bennett, what happened to your g-tube?  Did someone pull it out?"  I asked the question, not really believing anyone had actually pulled it out.

But without hesitation, Bennett smiled and said, "Parker did!  Parker pulled out my g-tube!"

The teacher confirmed this was true.

I just had to laugh.  I knew Parker had done it completely innocently as he is Bennett's best friend and is a child with such a tender heart.

I suppose the sweet child had been curious about his friend's g-tube and decided he wanted to see if it would come out.  I can imagine Parker, having not really seen a g-tube much before, didn't believe it was actually connected to the inside of Bennett.

But alas, it was.

Parker apparently pulled the entire g-tube out of Bennett's stomach with the bulb completely inflated.  Think of it as what it might feel like to have your entire earring (back included) pulled through your earring hole.  Ouch!

Bennett explained it hurt a bit when Parker pulled it out but it didn't hurt to go back in.  I was glad to hear this.  Obviously, it couldn't have hurt too much because Bennett didn't seem the least phased by it.  Good thing these boys are friends because neither seemed to care and the entire incident was quickly resolved.

My biggest fear has always been having another child wanting to put something (such as a pencil or toy) inside the tiny g-tube hole, potentially making Bennett sick.  So, I used this opportunity to teach Bennett about how to tell his friends "no" when they want to touch his g-tube or how to get a teacher to show them.

On the way home from picking up the boys from preschool, I couldn't help but call Parker's mom, Dana.  We laughed as I told her what innocent thing Parker had done that morning.  Neither one of us could quite believe Parker was strong enough to have pulled it out.  But I guess we both underestimate the power of kid's interest.

A bit later, Dana texted me that she had spoken with Parker about the incident and Parker had said he "didn't mean to take Bennett's 'bump' out" (Parker's word for the g-tube is "Bennett's bump") and that "he loves Bennett." :)  So sweet.

I'm so glad Bennett has a friend like Parker.  As I think about Bennett's life, how it will be different from other children around him, I think about how important friends are going to be for him in the future and how unique those friendships will be.  

My hope for Bennett is that he will have friends who will look past his disease and love him for who he is, at times encouraging him to reach beyond his limitations but, at other times, just walking with him through his fight against CF and embracing all that comes with it.

I see Parker's taking Bennett's g-tube out as a sign of a friend who is curious and interested in who Bennett is.  And I want to encourage curious friends because it is in that place that they fully can know Bennett.

I want Bennett to learn how to be an advocate for himself, sharing with friends about himself as he feels comfortable but stopping them at the point when he feels unsafe.  I love that this day in preschool was just the very beginning of a lifetime of sharing Bennett's sharing of story with his friends.

Parker, I'm confident there is about nobody else Bennett would rather have to pull out his g-tube than you!  We love you, little buddy! :)


  1. This was so touching. My best friend had CF and I loved her so much - some of our fondest memories were when she was admitted and we would talk for hours with nothing else to do. One time, she asked me to give her the insulin (it was least painful on the back of her arm, but that was a hard place to give your own shot!). I gave her the shot, removed it from her arm, and then she realized I forgot to push the insulin IN! So she had to have double the pokes. I felt a bit like Parker, but she was as gracious about it as Bennett was. :)

    1. Oh my goodness, Whitney, I laughed out loud reading your story about your giving your friend insulin and then having forgotten to push in the insulin! Poor girl! :) That would so be something I would do! Thank you for sharing with me this is the kind of friendship you had. I look forward to the dear friends who will be to Bennett what you were to her. Thanks so much for sharing your funny story! :)

  2. What a funny story. Glad everyone was calm and had a good laugh!


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