Stories about: Dr. Rachel Rosen

Taking a leap of faith: Jack says goodbye to his G-tube

Jack colors in a coloring book before having his G-tube removed

As they waited for their son Jack’s appointment, Marika and Josh Reuling had no indication that July 17, 2018, would be different from any other day. They chatted, glanced at the cartoons playing in the waiting room and handed Jack crayon after crayon as he happily colored a picture. It seemed like a just another routine check-up with Dr. Rachel Rosen, director of the Aerodigestive Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

But once the Reulings were settled in an exam room and Jack had sampled a variety of foods as part of an evaluation with feeding specialist Kara Larson, Rosen had a surprise for them. “What do you think about taking out Jack’s G-tube today?” she asked.

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Andrew’s story: Gold medalist kicks aerodigestive problems

With his asthma under control, Andrew holds the American flag after winning a gold medal

Last November, Andrew Warren stood on the podium in front of the American flag, grinning proudly as the medals around his neck glinted in the light. He had traveled to Orlando, Florida from his home in upstate New York to compete in the Karate and Kickboxing World Championships — and he delivered, taking home both a gold and a silver medal. It was an incredible accomplishment for a teenager once so ill that he made nearly three dozen visits to the emergency department before he was 6 years old.

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Swallowing problems: 4 things to know about dysphagia

swallowing problems

It seems like second nature to most of us, but swallowing is actually an intricate process with multiple stages, from the moment food or liquid passes through your lips until it enters your stomach. If something goes awry at any point in this journey, dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can be the result.

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“We can fix him.”

Sam, who was diagnosed with achalasiaOur 10-year-old son Sam was always a skinny kid and a picky eater, never enough to cause serious concern. But gradually, things began to darken. Sometimes at family dinners, he would show a pained look, get up from the table and start pacing around. A few times he clutched his chest and began to panic — fear rising in the room — but just as quickly these moments would pass. Perhaps wanting to ignore the signs, my wife and I categorized these episodes as among the many kid behaviors that defy explanation.

But once the daily vomiting started, I hauled Sam to our pediatrician. Sam’s accelerating weight loss was substantial enough to merit a barium swallow X-ray study, “just in case” there were abnormalities in his swallowing function.

We can fix him, she said. Come see us.

I remember that moment vividly — the radiologist gently maneuvering Sam in front of the machine, collecting images, then flashing the bad news to me through a worried glance. Something was very wrong. A terrifying journey was about to begin.

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