As a parent, the most difficult times in life are watching our children go through immense pain or discomfort. For Shannon, her son had to be placed on a feeding tube when he was just over a year old. The feeding tube that was surgically placed gave him such pain. His sister, then 4 years old, really wanted to help and take away the pain, but was helpless to do so. In order to help her better feel involved, Shannon contacted the tube company to send her a tube that they could attach to a bear or stuffed animal – a Tubie Friend.
The tube company sent her two tubes. She made one for her daughter and her son. The amazing thing? This Tubie Friend helped not only her daughter but her son as well. He went from screaming each time he had a feeding to easily allowing the feeding to happen, all with his Tubie Friend by his side. Now 10 years old, he has gone through 5 different tubes with 5 Tubie Friends to help him along the way.
What started as a simple way for her to help her children has spread rapidly. In 2012, Tubie Friends went public on Facebook as a way to help show other parents what they could do to help prepare their children for surgery and/or to cope with medical challenges.
About a year later, they became a nonprofit, relying on donations from the community for the supplies and shipping materials. Last year, they sent out over 2100 Tubie Friends to kids all over the world.
Here is one story of a family who has used Tubie Friends:
My son is 8 and has a G-tube for supplemental nutrition. At age 3 he suffered a spinal cord injury and now he is unable to maintain his weight. He has recently been put on daytime feeds, which he was very upset about. He was so worried that kids in his class would ask a lot of questions that he was not prepared or comfortable to answer. I asked him what he thought would help him be able to tell his friends and make him feel more comfortable about having to wear his pump and be fed at school. He replied with, ‘My dog with a feeding tube like me, can I take it to school?’ I said absolutely if that will help you.
Not only did it help him, it helped the students in his class, and staff. We left his dog at school for the week and the students were able to play with it, hook up an extension and ask questions. Staff were able to understand more about feeding tubes as well. The staff was so grateful for being able to share a Tubie Friend and said that it made sharing Jayden’s ‘other way of eating’ much easier.
You never know for what God is preparing you. Perhaps there is a situation or struggle in your life that is going to bless thousands. You can be used in amazing ways.
Do you have a story of how God has used a difficult situation in your life? We’d love to hear it!