Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I no longer have one going through my abdomen.

It's amazing how much better I feel, emotionally, now that the feeding tube has been taken out. It's obvious why. It's the last hurdle to healthy, the last bit of pharma invading my body. That damn tube I'm grateful I had in me was definitely wearing out it's welcome and now it's finally gone. It also means I'm able to eat real food.

The real truth is that I've always been paranoid about the tube. From day one I was trying my hardest to protect it from getting snagged or yanked. Once I had to take care of it myself, I taped it to my stomach and rigged another piece of tape to hold the tube close to it can't get pulled. I had to wear buttoned shirts so I can always have easy access to it, especially when the damn thing leaked or the syringe port came out.
Not Actual Size
So, being the paranoid guy I am, I was a bit concerned about how it would come out. How it would be, coming out. I knew the mechanics of it; screw a syringe (needle-less) to the smaller port and draw out the water in the balloon keeping it from coming out of the hole in my stomach. Once the water is removed, the tube is pulled out. Mechanics are one thing. Reality is another. I'm already freaked out that I still have two holes in me and a piece of medical equipment hanging out of them, so the idea that the Dr is going to pull this thing out of me is a bit unnerving. And knowing how this Dr works, I was kinda jittery about the whole procedure.

So I did what I do: I scrolled the internet for information. There weren't too many pictures of my particular PEG tube (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy), but I found a couple that made me feel better. Once the water was removed, the tube should be fairly smooth, with no ridges or changes in diameter. I think part of my paranoia in this area comes from my experience with the drainage tubes after surgery. I was imagining the same thing happening, but in my stomach as well as my abdomen. I scrounged for info for too long, stumbling across too many pictures of what happens when things go wrong. I felt better for knowing it wasn't nearly going to be as bad as my mind was making it.

Dad drives me to the doctor's. Knows the way by heart now. I'm letting him drive because the shifting bothers my shoulder a bit and I'm taking advantage of a driver while he's here. At the office, I give the receptionist the PET scan disk and the report and eventually get called in. He's happy with the results and asks what Dr. Szewczyk said about the two slightly lit nodes. I said she felt they were not a concern and he agreed but said they were something to watch. He checked my mouth and my scars and then asked if I was ready to get the tube out.

He takes the syringe and screws it into the port. He draws out the plunger. Nothing. He screws it in better. Nothing. He tosses the syringe and gets the scissors. No water comes out after he cuts it open. By this point I'm thinking, "Shit. That's 0 for 2. I know where this is going". So he hands me the horseshoe shaped bowl to catch whatever might possibly come out. My dad thought he was trying to distract me, but later said he doesn't think that anymore. So I'm looking down at the bowl he's handing me and it's almost like a sleight of hand thing because he's handing it to me with one hand, grabbing the tube with the other and then, before I can even turn my eyes to see what's going on, he's pulled it completely out, with exactly the gut-pulling, stomach skin-hole stretching sensation I was dreading.

It wasn't that bad. Just shuddery and cringy. Yeah, two totally made up words. In the big scheme of things, it was somewhere between getting an IV and yanking off my bandages too fast. Nowhere close to how the drain tubes felt.

My dad took me and Kevin's kid to The Keg, a nice steak place (sorry Livvy), for a celebratory dinner. It was pretty good. The server asked if we were celebrating anything in particular and my dad told him we were and explained about the clear scan and the returning taste buds and such. I told him that I had just had the feeding tube removed, and was celebrating that with food. He was very nice and congratulated me pretty sincerely. Said he had relatives who had passed because of cancer. A few minutes later the manager came over with a hefty slice of coffee ice cream pie. He congratulated me too and left us with the pie. My dad had some, but I ate the hell out of that pie. I swear I could taste the chocolate cookie crust.


Sue said...

Absolutely great news especially about the taste buds coming back, that pie sure sounded yummy. It gives you really nice feeling when people are so kind.

mswas said...

That must be pretty good pie, because I'm tearing up over the thought of it.

So happy for you!

Leslie said...

You don't know me but I found you on FB and then found this blog. I am currently battling Breast Cancer and I am amazed at your strength and honesty. I love your honesty!!! You made me cry with your pie comment. You hang in there and know that you are inspiring other people with your story of courage. I know us discovering you on FB was making you uncomfortable but maybe it happened for a reason. Thanks:)))