Heather W. was our Grand Prize Winner in our Dish On The Wish Contest!
This post contains information as told to us during an interview and excerpts from her original contest entry. We hope you enjoy her story as much as we did!
When Brandon was born, he was a healthy baby boy with great color and reflexes. Strong, handsome and ready to take on the world, Heather and her husband took him home to be with his older sister and round out their sweet family.
Soon she noticed that he ate A LOT. Thirty minutes after eating he’d want to eat again, and again, and again. After awhile this constant eating was cause for concern. His doctors soon figured out that liquids thinner than pudding would collect at the entrance to his lungs until they flooded downward. He was essentially risking drowning with every sip he took of fluids. This condition, “Silent Aspiration with Pooling” is actually pretty common in preemies and in kids with other health issues, but doesn’t normally happen in seemingly otherwise healthy kids.
“Drinking seems like such a simple task, but for my son it was a five-year journey full of struggles,” wrote Brandon’s mom Heather in her entry. “Thickened liquids became the norm to keep him healthy. Years of occupational therapy, feeding therapy, medical procedures, and one surgery later, he was given the ‘all clear’ to drink whatever he wanted without a thickener.”
Brandon’s doctors realized that his very oversized adenoids may have been causing many of the problems he faced, so they removed them. For the time being, this seems to have helped him lead a more normal life with a disease that, if it should reoccur, would be hard to detect.
“The only problem,” Heather wrote, “is that he was scared of feeling pain again. He associated thin liquids with the painful burning feeling in his lungs that he had felt too many times.” She explains that his feeding therapists had little success in getting him to trust that something new wouldn’t mean the same pain of feeling things went down “the wrong pipe.”
It wasn’t until Father’s Day approached and Heather took both children to As You Wish Pottery to paint a mug for their dad that a miracle seemed to occur. “My son immediately fell in love with a shot glass. He wanted to paint it for himself,” she remembers in her entry. “That’s so silly! You don’t even want to drink,” his sister had remarked and Heather watched her two-year-old son’s face fall and her heart began to break. But her still sharp-as-a-tack former teacher’s mind came up with an amazing idea.
Getting down on her knees in front of Brandon, she took the glass in her hands and looked it over. “You know I think this might be a Magic Glass,” she wrote. Brandon’s eyes immediately looked back at the glass, his face full of hope. “Yes, I do think it is,” she confirmed.
From her side, another sweet voice piped in: “What do you mean by magic?” her daughter Elizabeth questioned, now fully interested as she loves fairies and magic too. “Well, I’m pretty sure that whoever paints this glass can drink from it without feeling any pain,” Heather explained, smiling as Brandon grabbed the tiny glass with both hands and uttered just one word: “Please.”
That day at As You Wish Brandon carefully painted his Magic Glass while her daughter worked on their special Father’s Day mug. “I had never seen my son more excited about anything in his life!” she wrote, adding as we spoke that normally he zips through projects, but with this he seemed to take more of his time.
Finally the day came for them to pick up the Magic Glass. “I sighed with relief when he grasped his cup with tiny hands and exclaimed that it was perfect,” wrote Heather. “I immediately rinsed it out and put in some (unthickened) liquid. My heart stopped while my son took a sip.”
“It tastes good,” Brandon said with a small smile. Heather was elated: “I’m sure everyone watching wondered why tears were streaming down my face, but I didn’t care. That Father’s Day was one we would not forget, for our family received a priceless gift,” wrote Heather in her entry. “During our Father’s Day dinner my son drank regular, everyday milk from a shot sized cup. My wish had come true.”
Now six, Brandon still fondly remembers his cup and still enjoys drinking from it, despite how many times he needs to fill up the tiny glass. His therapists use it to introduce different liquids to him to keep him healthy and expanding his food and drink palette.
Heather says that they are so excited to use their $200 Gift Card prize, especially since she almost didn’t enter the contest in the first place. “I saw an announcement in my News Feed that there were still a few days left to enter when I went onto Facebook to wish a relative a Happy Birthday,” she explains. “I thought maybe we’d be one of the Runners Up who got a $20 Gift Card and that would help us get to visit.” Because of the medical bills, As You Wish is a luxury for their family, but they are huge fans.
Heather’s daughter had her birthday party at As You Wish last year, and they come as often as they can, but each still has MANY items on their wish lists to paint, even Heather herself. “Whenever we are together I want it to be special,” she says recalling that some of her fondest memories were when she and her Grandmother would have tea using her Grandmother’s best china. “Meal times are special moments for us, so I would love to create our own dinner set for our family, which is the most important thing in life.”