G-Tube Troubles and Tantrums (a Ramble)

I have very complicated feelings about my G-tube.

Understandably so, I think. Its insertion, after all, was what led to the infection that led to the septic shock that led to much of what’s happened this past year. I agreed to get the G-tube in the first place because some part of me realized that I’d die without it. It’s ironic, then, that I came so close to death because of it.

But that grossly simplified version of events ignores the fact that had I been in better physical shape for the procedure, my body likely would’ve better dealt with disturbances to its very unstable state. Indeed, there’s a good chance that the complications would’ve been something to handle rather than something to almost die of. I also somewhat begrudgingly recognize that after it threw its initial temper tantrum, the G-tube did save my life. Continuous nutrition for months? It’s a good thing.

Regardless, anxiety and fear predominate whenever something goes wrong with my tube. In a flash, I’m brought back to that vortex of helplessness and hopelessness that I experienced after I regained consciousness last summer and that I continue to experience while learning to adjust to my new reality. You’re gonna die, says the brain that in acute(ish) situations practises very convenient selective-listening when it comes to words exiting the mouths of medical professionals. True to my black-and-white thinking, I often forget that there’s a big gap between “die” and “live exactly the life I once planned for myself but is no longer realistic or possible.”

Though my palliative-care doctor has been incredible at helping me see (and even, on my better days, embrace) the grey zone, and though we have a great patient–doctor rapport, I’m too embarrassed to tell her just how much anxiety the G-tube causes me. Based on other conversations we’ve had, however, I’m confident enough to make a prediction as to how she’d reply were I to share my worry that after everything I, the people I love, and the Canadian healthcare system have invested in keeping me alive, it’ll be the G-tube that does me in.

Me: “I’m gonna die.”

Her: “Yup, and so will I one day. If there’s anything certain in life, it’s death.”

OK, enough positivity (that was positivity, right?) and back to my rant.

One morning last week, my home-care nurse began flushing my G-tube. We were in the middle of talking about underarm hair and its many benefits when water spurted onto my dress. From … the inside? You’re peeing through your G-tube, my brain informed me. No such luck; the G-tube had simply fallen out. The nurse sent me directly to the ER to have it evaluated. I’ll require surgery, including a general anaesthetic, to have it put back in. I don’t yet have a date for the procedure, but it should take place relatively soon.

In the meantime, I’ll no doubt keep flipping back and forth between freaking out and reminding myself that this is a routine operation and one that I need. I’m allowed to be scared, frustrated, angry, whatever; that said, I might as well enjoy this break from having a tube sticking out of my abdomen.

And here, my friends, lies the silver lining! Without the tube, I can sleep on my stomach, which is the best. I’ll never again take it for granted.

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