Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tube tribulations

The "G" in G-tube might as well stand for "goner."

Tethered to my tummy nearly precisely 10 months ago, my G-tube has gradually shown signs of erosion. I chalk up most of this erosion to normal wear-and-tear but many nights I wake up and find my G-tube wrapped around my legs or wedged between my thighs so who knows how I abuse the thing in my sleep?

A few months ago, I showed my HIV doctor how the rubber cap to the tube was wearing thin, and he said he would do his best to make sure that I got a replacement cap.

If the part broke off, there would be no way to seal the tube between feedings. Wherever I went, I would leave a runny trail of half-digested Isosource, which might make it easier for authorities to track me down if I ever disappeared but otherwise would just create an unholy mess.

A few days later, Kaiser's Durable Medical Department dropped off a package at my door. Inside was a complete G-tube, not the part that I needed. And it was a different style from my G-tube, so I couldn't just clip off the cap and toss the rest.

I put off dealing with the problem far too long, but last week, I paid a call in person at Kaiser's Member Services Department and explained the situation to a handsome guy named Laurent who presented himself as highly competent. I showed the bum rubber cap to Laurent, had him examine the new G-tube that was useless to me, and explained to him that if the frayed rubber cap finally broke, I would have no way of eating or taking my meds.

I'm confident that Laurent understood what I needed, but he had to work with the Durable Medical Equipment Department. So to minimize the possibility that Durable Medical Equipment would botch up the request, I also enlisted the advocacy of a speaking friend of mine.

Well, Durable Medical Equipment told my friend that they had shipped the exact equipment that my doctor had ordered, and as if to underscore their insistence that they had not erred, they delivered another G-tube just like it.

In desperation, last Friday I emailed the surgeon who implanted the G-tube in my belly 10 months ago and explained the situation to her. Tomorrow, she and I have set up a rendezvous in the procedure area of her department.

If anyone can solve this problem, I think the suregon can. I don't know why I didn't start with her in the first place, except it does seem to be a function below her pay grade.

I just need to keep the cap from snapping off for three or four more feedings.

Today, I've got rosary beads around the G-tube to ward off malevolence. It probably won't do me any good, but it can't hurt.


  1. Keep your chin up, we're right behind you with good wishes. We were in NF last weekend, it rained nearly the whole time, and I don't think we even saw the Falls. dumb huh?