Over the past month, I have made some progress in being able to eat enough calories and gain weight. As of last week, I no longer require the use of my feeding tube. It has been finally pulled out. This has been a long time coming. In fact, I have been wanting to have the feeding tube removed as soon as I started feeling a little better at home after my surgery, 4 months ago. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this tube. This 6-inch long rubber tube inserted through my belly directly into my intestine was lifesaving, and probably prevented me from losing 30 or more pounds.
The feeding tube was inserted during my surgery when my surgeon decided that I needed extra caloric support to maintain my weight. With my stomach and a good chunk of my esophagus removed, it became impossible to eat 3 meals a day like a normal person. I had to eat small amounts throughout the day, from the moment I woke up until bedtime, with the feeding tube providing extra nutrition overnight over 8 to 12 hours. Essentially, I was getting food 24/7.
Not needing a feeding tube means an extra degree of freedom. The tube went through one of my abdominal muscles, which made it difficult to use my core muscles. It means that I’m no longer tethered to an apparatus that includes an IV pole, a pump and a bag of liquid nutrition at night. It means I can toss and turn in bed and not have to worry about my feeding tube being accidentally pushed in or pulled out. Most importantly, it symbolizes my new-found ability to eat independently, without the need for a nutritional “crutch”.
In the grand scheme of things, the feeding tube was just a nuisance rather than a true handicap. I’m still a long way off from being able to eat 4 meals a day (probably another 1-2 years). Without knowing when the next bit of good news will come, any victory, however small, remains a victory and should be celebrated as such.