Day 5 - The power of the PINNT Bear

When I was first diagnosed, it felt as if my world had stopped spinning

Every year a select few bears go through rigorous training at the PINNT University before graduating with a qualification allowing them to become a ‘PINNT Bear.’ These bears are then purchased through the PINNT website by many people around the country and eagerly await their next adventure with their new family.

In 2016, while in hospital, I received a package which unknown to me contained my very own PINNT Bear.
Initially, I just saw him as another teddy, one that would add to my extensive collection at home and gather dust. The only difference being was the fact that this bear had a T-shirt which highlighted the fact that I was different. He was cute, and I was happy to be an owner of a PINNT bear, but I was completely unaware of the impact that he would have on my life, because unbeknownst to the bear or me, he was going to be life changing!
When I was first diagnosed, it felt as if my world had stopped spinning. I wasn’t ready to change my life just so that I could cater for how I was now being fed, and I certainly wasn’t ready to lose the fun and adventure from life either. I struggled to see past tubes, pumps and hospitals for a while, and I thought I’d never jump into a swimming pool again, let alone jump onto an aeroplane and go on holiday. I then remembered having a visit from a close friend who said a cheesy statement which went along the lines of “even an arrow needs pulling back before going forward.” I remember laughing, raising an eyebrow and telling them to stop being a muppet. When in actual fact it was because of what they had said that I then took a second look at everything that was happening and thought about how I could deal with it all. I could either see my diagnosis as a set back, or as something that’ll launch into something great?!... Just like an arrow does after being pulled back. …So from then onwards, I’ve always chosen the latter!
Subsequently, my bear was called ‘Arrow’ and he’s become a well known bear amongst family, friends and on Facebook. I’ve only had him for 2 ½ years, but he comes everywhere with me and has become a big part of what I do. He’s travelled the world, got me ‘behind the scenes’ of many places and has been the reason that I’ve continued to push boundaries. He’s also been the reason that I’ve managed to get everyone and anyone to pull a silly face for a photo, which I find quite funny.
Arrow and I started a Facebook page called “Face Everything And Rise” in order to publicise all the adventures that we had and to show the boundaries that could be pushed when you’re artificially fed. We’ve also managed to raise a bit more awareness of ‘Home Artificial Nutrition’ by giving people (who may not otherwise have known about PINNT or HAN) food for thought.
At 29, it’s not exactly cool to publicise the fact that I have a bear that I take everywhere and it’s also probably not cool to say that he’s changed my life either, but I’d be lying if I said that he hadn’t. Arrow and I have done some pretty awesome things, and most of them being adventures which I believed would never be possible.
As you may not have yet visited our Facebook Page, I thought I’d quickly mention a few adventures which Arrow and I have been on.
Firstly, we’ve been abroad on many occasions; both cruises and on self organised holidays. He’s been behind the scenes of both P&O cruise liners, Oceana and Oriana, and he has even been up onto the Bridge to meet the captain. He’s also been in the cockpit on a BA flight and managed to persuade the pilots to pull funny faces for the camera too. He’s met the guards at the Coliseum in Rome, and met the people at Hammond Dry Suits who make swimming possible for people with lines. He’s been white water rafting, crabbing, ice diving, zorbing, horse riding, skiing, been to a wedding and even on a fast rib ride in the Solent too. He’s met Gary Hunt (the Red Bull Cliff Diving champion), Micheal Owen (the ex-England footballer) on a waterpark flume and even managed to met a few of the Harlem Globe Trotters too.
I’ve managed to accidently leave him behind at the O2 Centre in London after climbing over the roof, and received a text from a restaurant owner telling me that he would be in good hands until I caught the tube back to get him. He’s been the teddy I practised injecting on while I was being taught how to administer injections into my stomach, and he’s also been in theatre with me on many occasions.
He may just be a bear to many, but to me he’s a symbol that everything and anything can still be possible. Fun can still be had, and memories can still be made!
I know ‘HAN Week’ only lasts for 7 days each year, but I believe that we could all raise awareness far more often using the power of our PINNT Bears. Since having Arrow I’ve learnt that once I’ve introduced him, then people want to learn more about artificial nutrition, how it works, and what it’s like to live with it…. and isn’t that what it’s all about….. raising awareness?!  Because the more people who are made aware of it, the fewer restrictions we will face, the more opportunities will be made available to us, and the more amenable and understanding others will be towards us too. After all, as with any condition, wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where you only get looked at because you’re doing something interesting and awesome, rather than because you look a little different carrying a feed bag or have a naso gastric tube?
Teddies are a funny thing, they bring great comfort to many but it’s only once you start building memories with them that they become significant, treasurable and memorable for so many people. Therefore, I believe that if every reader of the PINNT articles this week went and bought a PINNT bear and started to take them out on adventures, letting them be seen by the world and use them as a conversation starter amongst people they may not otherwise talk to…. then the awareness of PINNT and HAN would be incredible!!
So grab your bear, think of a name for it which motivates you to see the positives in your condition, and go spread awareness, happiness and fun!!
P.S. Don’t forget to upload your adventures and photos onto the Drippy Bear Facebook Page so that we can continue to see the great work you’re all doing in raising awareness.

HAN Week