Sunday, January 11, 2009

POP! goes the G-tube

Paula Poundstone tells a story about discovering that one of her daughters has dropped a Flintstones jelly-jar glass, shattering it across the kitchen floor.

"Oh, so we can't have nice things," she complains to the child.

That's how I feel about my 26-year old sofa these days, a little more than one month of G-tube feedings in my living room.

My G-tube error rate is embarrassingly high, and I have the stains on my sofa, carpet and pajamas to prove it.

Before I can pour a meal in the G-tube, I need to clear the tube of residual goop from my last meal by attaching a syringe to the tube, and then raising a plunger inside the syringe. Once the stinky goop is captured in the syringe I dump it in an empty Dixie cup.

But the plunger rarely lifts easily so I have to pull on it as hard as I can. Too often the plunger separates from the syringe with a ear-splitting "POP!" and goop flies everywhere but in the Dixie cup.

At other times, I'll fill the syringe with fresh vanilla Isosource and then wait for it to work its way down the G-tube. A believer in multi-tasking, I use this time to read the paper. Every so often, the nose of the syringe slips out of the G-tube and the Isosource falls onto my lap, the sofa and that morning's Sudoku.

Or maybe an accident occurs between meals, when the cap of the G-tube pops open and goop flows down my leg or in my bed.

Any one of these G-tube bloopers would be an instant hit on You Tube but I really would like to keep them just between you and me.

When I feed at work, I slip into a vacant office and close the door. My co-workers think I'm being modest about unbuttoning my shirt in front of them but I really don't want them to know what a klutz I am.

You would think that I would be getting more adept at using the G-tube after all this time, but I'm not. That makes me all the more hopeful that this is only a temporary stage in my life, and I'll be returning to eating meals through my mouth soon.

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