There are many types of tubes which are categorized by where they enter the body; there are also different brands and styles of tubes. Tubes can be thick with a long hose, or small and desecrate looking very similar to the air valve of an inflatable beach-ball. The type and style of tube a patient received depends on the problem they are encountering, the treatment they are receiving, or the organ that is malfunctioning.
Many patients with feeding tubes have no visible illness. Many conditions that require a tube are due to a malfunctioning organ, or the complete failure of ones digestive system. While many of us profess our deep love for these tubes, it is not an ideal situation. While yes they give is life and important sustaining nutrition, we do not love the way of life which has been thrust upon us. I don't know one person with a feeding tube who is extremely grateful they have one, but I also don't know one person who wishes they didn't need it. It is a hard life adjusting to low, or no, oral consumption. Watching everyone around you enjoy a meal, or even just snacking on the couch can be difficult. Eating is a basic and essential function to human life. Living without something that is within ones nature takes a heavy toll on the individual. Many of us will tell others "I don't even think of food any more!" But it's not true. We all still wish to bite into a juicy cheese burger, or take a big scoop of our favorite ice cream, we just do not want the associated symptoms that come along with oral consumption. Food is not the enemy of a tubie, it's our failing bodies.
. A patient can be , which is where a designated amount of formula or blenderized food is pushed through a syringe a few times a day. Or a patient can be on where they must be hooked up to a small pump which regulated formula into their body consistently. The feeding preference can be up to your prescribing doctor or Dietitian, it all depends on reason for insertion of the tube; excessive weight loss, inability to digest food, GERD, or a disorder of particular organs.
Continuos feeds are normally associated with patients who have trouble absorbing nutrients, and who are unable to tolerate large volumes of formula at a time. Continuous can mean: 24/7 feeding, only at night feeding, or feeding for a certain amount of hours during the day. (Just cause I'm sure your all curios, night feeding is not weird at all. You just put your pump next to your bed and let it run. You don't feel the formula going in. Patients with aspiration issues do not normal feed at night however due to the possibility of drowning themselves.) The rate of feeding and time frame are determined by your dietition depending on your caloric needs. Bolus feeds are normally associated with patients who use tubes on a more intermittent basis than their sole nutrient factor, and who's bodies can tolerated larger volumes of fluid at one time. Many people with feeding tubes are sustained by doctor prescribed formula. Formula is normally shipped to ones home every month from a local health care facility along with their feeding supplies, such as extension set, feeding bags, flush bags, syringes, drainage gauze, and other tubie essentials. This formula contains all the proper nutrients a person would receive from eating orally. However, many formulas are full of corn syrup. Some patients due to this ingredient choose to go the "blenderized diet" rout which consists of real food puréed in a heavy duty blender.
A few random facts about feeding tubes:
My personal Tubie experience:
My tube was placed in 2014 due to severe esophageal dysmotiltiy, Gastroperisis, and malabsorption. My doctor first used a trial NG tube to decide if my stomach could still handle any sort of substance. Once we decided it could, we placed the permanent G tube. My dietitian and physician decided I should be on continuos feeds, the reasoning being I could obtain more calories, and I needed a slow infusion as bolus feeds would induce vomiting/reflux. The formula prescribed by my dietitian contained predigested enzymes making it easy for my broken gut to handle. I had a PEG tube placed, which is a long hose like tube inserted into my stomach through endoscopic surgery. After 6 months we placed a more low profile tube, called a Button G-Tube, which was inserted without anesthesia into my already formed stoma. For me transitioning to no oral consumption was not difficult as food caused me great pain and suffering; due to my paralyzed esophagus food would get stuck, and due to my gastroperisis I would have horrible stomach pain if anything made it that far. Vomiting was an hourly occurrence. On the tube I am never hungry, but I am never full. With the constant infusion of formula I feel content... I guess that's the best word. I still feel the urge to eat because it's in my basic human nature, however I don't feel "hungry" anymore. In my case I was unable to take any oral consumption for the first few months of my tube placement. As time passed the swelling in my esophagus went gone as my GERD was no longer constantly eroding my esophageal wall. I am now able to consume liquids by mouth, give it it must be liquids that won't induce GERD symptoms, and occasionally they don't like to stay down either way.
Many people ask how I cope with this situation and to be honest, since I don't have another option, I just do. I see no reason to resent the apparatus that keeps me alive. On days when I feel lost and depressed about what has become of my life; being kept alive through tubes, ports, and drugs, I must remember that those things actually gave me my life back. The girl pre feeding tube was not living, she was surviving starvation. For months she didn't sleep, she didn't leave her house, she didn't enjoy her life, she didn't like what she saw in the mirror. Now when I look in the mirror I see a strong women who is empowered by her disabilities, and proud of the apparatuses that keep her alive. (Updated April 2015)
January 2017 - After my Stem Cell Transplant the peristalsis that was formally paralyzed/slow throughout my digestive tract began to move again! How odd it is to again feel the sensation of food moving in harmony with my organs! I am currently not using my feeding tube, and am able to digest, and absorb my nutrients! My physicians hope this will lead to the removal of my feeding tube in the coming months!