Commerce, MI – For 13-year-old Bayley Saville, having a permanent feeding tube does little to hinder her equestrian aspirations. Bayley was born with a rare intestinal motility disorder called pseudo-obstructive disease. She had her first stomach surgery when she was three months old and had a feeding tube placed to help with her nutrition. Many children with illnesses cannot participate in athletic activities because of tubes or IVs necessary for their well-being, but when Bayley was an infant her mother Melissa designed a special pocket to hold the feeding tube in place. As Bayley grew up, she developed a love for riding horses, and her “pocket” has made her riding dreams possible.
Melissa and Bayley live in Commerce, MI, where Bayley rides out of Hidden Hollow Farms with trainer Tara Golaszewski. Bayley started riding when she was eight years old and has done very well competing in the Pony Hunters.
“She just can’t get enough of it,” Melissa laughed. “She is at the barn five days a week and she rides three different ponies. She rides a lot. Her first full year of showing was 2010 and she was champion in five of the six divisions that she was involved in for the Michigan Hunter Jumper Association’s year end awards. Last year she was Green Pony Hunter Champion. Last year was also her first year showing on the ‘A’ circuit and she did about ten shows.”
“She wants to be a professional rider and trainer,” Melissa added. “She just loves it. She tried a few other things before riding, but they were just not working well because of her feeding tube. She tried gymnastics, but she couldn’t bend over the bar, and she can’t play contact sports. I am so happy that she found something that she is passionate about and she is doing very well at it. The ‘MyPokit’ gives her more confidence when she is riding. She is not afraid to go up in the two-point and she loves jumping. She can ride without worrying because it is safer for her to have it on.”
The idea for MyPokit originated when Bayley was just two years old. Melissa got nervous watching Bayley crawl around with her feeding tube when she was a baby, always worrying that the tube would get caught on something or somehow get pulled out. Taping the tube to Bayley’s stomach left the child’s skin red and irritated. After researching and discovering that no product existed to solve the problem, Melissa took matters into her own hands. She created MyPokit with the help of a friend and local seamstress, who helped come up with a prototype.
MyPokit is a specially designed, wearable pouch which straps around the child or adult’s torso if they have a feeding tube or a central line. MyPokit prevents the patient’s tube from accidentally getting pulled or kinked, even during use, providing safety and comfort for the patient. A front strap attachment allows the patient to put on and remove MyPokit without assistance. It can easily be adjusted while an infant is laying on their back. MyPokit is lovingly handcrafted with soft, gentle fabric that will feel comfortable against a patient’s skin and it fits discreetly beneath the patient’s clothing.
Bayley was just a baby when she first started wearing her pocket, but Melissa says that she instantly fell in love with it and started asking for it all of the time. “She would say ‘I want to wear my pocket’ and ‘where is my pocket’. That is how I came up with the name. How could I not call it that? That is what she always called it,” Melissa smiled.
After many years of encouragement, Melissa finally decided to starting selling and marketing MyPokit this year in an effort to help other children in similar situations feel safe, comfortable, and accepting of their medical condition.
She explained, “When the medical staff and the doctors at the hospital started seeing MyPokit they absolutely fell in love with it. They have been encouraging me to make it available to anybody and everybody for the last ten years, but I just was not in the right place in my life to tackle that whole endeavor.”
“I just about three or four months ago said ‘Ok, I’m ready to go’ and it has taken off,” Melissa stated. “There are a couple of medical supply companies that are making them available and a couple of hospitals here in the area that have started carrying them. There are also a couple of support groups that have started carrying them on their websites. It has been a good thing. I always thought it was a good idea, but I didn’t really know, and I have just gotten nothing but positive feedback. It has been pretty exciting!”
Now a teenager, Bayley is in seventh grade and just started home schooling with Melissa. She has also gotten involved in the business, helping to design the MyPokits and attending meetings to tell her story. Melissa is very proud of Bayley’s involvement.
“I have to okay all of the styles and designs through her,” she laughed. “She comes to the fabric store with me and picks stuff out. She has actually come to a lot of the presentations with me at the hospitals as well because they like to hear her story and she does a really good job. She models her pocket for them and she answers questions that they have. I’m sure they appreciate hearing from someone that is directly dealing with it.”
Melissa hopes to see MyPokit become more successful as the year goes on and would like to spread the word that this product is now available. “I know that even 11 years after I came up with the idea, still to this day there is nothing out there that addresses safety concerns of having a feeding tube or semi-permanent IV,” she said. “I just want people to be aware and be able to get the product to make family members or patients safer and more comfortable. It’s no fun for kids to go through medical procedures and this helps them get through whatever they need to get through. If getting a new MyPokit can bring a little bit of a smile to someone’s face and make them happy, then it is worth it. That makes my day.”
Equestrian photos copyright Diana Hadsall
Article courtesy of Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media