Improving One Meal at a Time

To Leslie, eating a simple dish, like his favourite Char Siu, is something he never thought would be a challenge.  

After a successful brain surgery led to unexplained lung failure, life for Leslie took a drastic turn and he had to be put in an induced coma. Thankfully, his lungs picked up, but the complete bedrest in ICU had severely wasted his muscles, leaving him with numbness on the left side of the face and impacted his swallowing ability. To ensure he continued receiving adequate nutrition and medication, he was placed on Nasogastric Tube (NGT) feeding, a tube that goes through his nose and into his stomach. In mid-2022, he was referred to St Luke’s Community Clinic for outpatient speech therapy and dietetics services. 

To improve his swallowing strength and wean him off NGT feeding, our speech therapist, Siew Wei, started him on direct swallowing therapy. She closely monitored how he swallowed and what he could eat. Meanwhile, our dietitian, Serene, ensured Leslie met his nutritional needs. She worked closely with his family to prepare a personalised meal plan based on a texture-modified diet.  

In the initial stages, his wife and main caregiver, Juliet, had a difficult time at home. Together with a helper, they diligently prepared his NGT feeding 6 times a day, on top of assisting him in other activities, such as bathing and diaper changing. With Serene’s support and encouragement during Leslie’s transition to a pureed diet, Juliet learned how to prepare meals using pureed ingredients, and was taught to remind Leslie to eat slowly and swallow with intentionality to prevent aspiration pneumonia.  

One meal at a time, Leslie showed good progress based on the speech therapy and diet recommendations. After 6 months, Leslie was removed from NGT feeding and a year later, could finally eat a greater variety of soft foods such as fruits, oats, and fish again. Despite his food portions being smaller than before, he has reached a stable weight and meets his nutritional needs.  

Juliet is thankful to God and proud of how far her husband has come, and continues to accompany Leslie to his follow-up appointments at SLCC. “We are thankful for all the professional help and support from SLH, and for treating me like a friend. I appreciate that very much,” said Juliet.