I have a g-PEG feeding tube that I depend on for my entire supply of fluids and nutrients. (In real English that would be “drinks and food”) I’ve had it for several years now.
I am grateful to have this amazing little tube that keeps me alive despite side effects from cancer. I boggles my mind that I should have starved to death many years ago, but all I have is hook up to this strange little device that somehow goes through layers of skin and into my stomach. It was kind of weird to see the liquid flow in there the first few times.
Getting my first g-PEG feeding tube
The g-PEG has to be placed surgically into the stomach the first time. It hurts for a while, but then it heals and the skin kind of closes in around the peg. Most of the time you can almost forget it’s there. Sometimes it gets a little irritated and itchy or sore, but if you keep it cleaned and dry it’s not so bad.
What a g-PEG looks like
For those of you who do not know what a g-PEG feeding tube is, here’s a picture.
The end with the balloon goes into the stomach and the balloon is filled with sterile water to keep it from slipping out. then a 2oz syringe fits down into the tube. Fill the syringe and either let it flow or use the plunger and push it through.
There are tubes to connect to the g-PEG
Then a 2oz syringe plugs into the tube
What do I tube
Any liquid, or food that is pureed thin enough, can be put through the g-PEG feeding tube. I have a prescription from my doctor for Jevity, which is the medical version of Ensure.
Jevity or Ensure types of nutritionYou can buy Jevity and Ensure at Amazon
The nice thing about Jevity or Ensure is that they flow through the tubes easily and I don’t have to push them with the plunger. And they are handy to take on-the-go.
The negative side of Jevity or Ensure is that it can be kind of expensive if insurance doesn’t cover it. And it doesn’t give the mental image of a real meal.
That may not seem like much of a problem, but sometimes I have found that I get the “woe is me” feeling when I have this not so lovely smelling can of carefully created nutrients to “eat” while others get the wonderful smell of pizza or green peppers and onions.
Pureed foods in the tube
I also have a Vitamix blender that I use to puree food to tube. It does a great job of pureeing food to a nice thin consistency.
The nice thing about using the pureed food is that you have control of your nutrients and you can use the food everyone else is eating.
The negative side of pureed food is that you have to make sure it is thin enough to go through the tip of the tube. It is a challenge when some small clump or seed, or stringy food, sometimes seemingly miniscule, gets stuck in that little tip.
Never fear, this too can be dealt with. It just takes some patience. I just clamp off, stand over a sink or put a towel over my lap in case the flood gates open, and unlock the tube from the g-peg. That way I can empty the tube and poke the little menace through the tip to clear it. I clean it up and hook it up again. On with the tubing.
I do have some of those “you gotta laugh” moments. You know, those, “you gotta laugh or you will cry” times. I’ve had so many clogged tubes or spills from my tube popping loose from the syringe. It can be embarrassing when I’m in a public place and have this major “spooge” as my family has come to call it.
Be careful with tubing food that is too hot.
I have tubed hot foods or hot water. The first time I thought I was getting sick to my stomach. But after just minutes the feeling went away. It didn’t take too long for me to realize I was burning the inside of my stomach. I am more careful now.
Too cold feels funny.
I’ve tubed some cold stuff and it always makes me sit up and take notice. It doesn’t hurt, but I can feel the cold going into my stomach. It kind of makes me laugh because it just feels funny.
How to care for a stoma and g-PEG feeding tube
I wore a gauze pad over the stoma (the incision in the skin, or the hole, that is kept open around the g-PEG) for a while because it was sore. Now it’s much better. I just wash it with a soapy washcloth, rinse it and dry it thoroughly.
It seems to be very important to keep it dry around the stoma so that it doesn’t get irritated. Especially during the summer or when I get sweaty. Sometimes I use a very small amount of an anti-itch cream or some triple antibiotic ointment.
The g-PEG feeding tube is pretty easy to care for. Just make sure to run clear water through it after tubing anything else. I try to run at least 4oz of clear water after each meal or medications.
Tubing in public
Adults tend to feel uncomfortable when they see me start to hook up my tube or if they notice me sitting there with a long tube coming up out of my stomach with a big syringe attached to it.
Not children. I love tubing around children. They are not shy.They will sit and stare. They will point. All of this while parents are trying to tell the kids they aren’t being polite.
I take the opportunity to jump in and tell the parents it’s ok, and then I show the kids the tube and tell them about how I eat.
A good reference book
A dear young lady gave me a book back when I first had to depend on my feeding tube. “Complete Tubefeeding: Everything you need to know about tubefeeding, tube nutrition, and blended diets”
The author wisely encourages his reader to laugh. Getting angry or upset certainly isn’t going to change the situation. You might as well take it in stride, laugh at it , clean it up, and go on. He is so right!
He also includes information about how to use and care for your feeding tube. My favorite part was his reference to “Popeye muscles”! I laughed so hard.
You’ll find information about nutrition and so many recipes for great blended meals fit for feeding tubes.
A tribute to others
I hope this post has been helpful to you in some way. I tip my hat to all who live their lives with any kind of assistance device. For many it is a much more difficult adjustment than mine and I admire them for it! Blessings to all of you!!
See some fun drawings on my Drawing website