Going Tubeless

It all takes time!

Starting Near the Middle

“Protein and Calories” remains our chant.  We are now super cognizant of nutrition in the elderly body.

You may be just as aware. Skin issues (boils, ingrown hairs, zits, blisters) can become abscesses. Our skin is the largest organ in our body. Delicate and vulnerable, yet great defense.

The medical advice for protein and calories has worked well for us.  The skin condition is great.

Close to the Middle

Physical middle and experience middle!

Beginning at the middle, we have just been released from all TUBES.  We came home from rehab with a Jackson-Pratt drain tube for an internal abscess.

It was in his middle front area, to the right. It was attached with a suture. We had no idea where for sure. Only that CT scans and culture tests indicated nasty things growing. Nasty things that could only be defeated by heavy doses of antibiotics. The antibiotics were delivered via IV all of the time he was in the hospital and rehab. He graduated to oral antibiotics when we brought him home from rehab.

And a PEG tube for stomach feeding. About 9-10 inches sticking out of upper abdomen area. Tender if bumped or pulled. The rehab nurses attached it to his shirt with a large safety pin. A diaper pin was desirable, but they are scarce with disposable diapers. We chose a Kilt pin!

The advice was to use a separate feeding system to help him gain weight. His weight had dropped to 114 lbs at one time. We felt ‘success’ if he weighed 116 lbs! Another trip back to hospital to have a tube installed.  The tube system delivered nutritional liquid…Jevity is the brand we use. Using the surgical method, we were set and ready to come home. But a serious Christmas blizzard changed all of that! We were delayed for three days before the roads were opened.

They were always in the way. They had to be emptied and/or flushed at least once a day.  Before we came home, he had a pic line with perpetual IV antibiotic and medication.

He lived in these cool vests that I found on Amazon. They gave him some ‘tube modesty.’  Most important, the vests prevented loose tubes from catching on stuff.  The vests are reasonably priced and very sturdy. They spend a good amount of time in the washing machine and dryer. They have excellent pockets and haven’t ‘pilled.’

The drain tube FELL out as he was getting a morning clean-up. That tube had been part of him since October, 2023.  Negotiations were going on with infection specialists to get more antibiotic through IV infusions.  Culture tests indicated continued problems. Oral antibiotics weren’t successful.

We were stunned and scared and raced to an ER to get it put back. Tests that day proved that we didn’t need it!  No longer did a little drain bulb reside in his shirt pocket. No longer was a long tube interwoven between buttons on his shirt to keep it in place.  One step closer to a good night’s rest not having that tube’s needs wandering around in his mind.

We had to do some spiritual self-talk. We were chagrined at our SURPRISE to have no tube in our future! I was first tempted to be snarky to the specialist who was insisting problems continued. We had to be more mature about our faith. Perhaps the problems she saw were there when she looked. We had been praying with MANY others across the country for healing. Problems shown to the specialist were defeated in a short time.  Our faith for his recovery was validated. While we had believed for it, we were still ‘hanging on’ not knowing WHEN to expect the reward.

It Wasn’t All Bad

We used the PEG tube to deliver one small feeding of Jevity each day. And medications as he had trouble with pills.  The tube began acting out. A small thing that looked like a hernia was popping out at the side. Our primary recommended returning to the surgeon for potential repairs.  When we went to the surgeon, he said “Oh, we can take it out.”  That was less difficult than we expected.  We still use that small amount of Jevity (one little box) each day. Because of the texture and non-flavor, the feeding formula can be mixed in with regular food.  It’s easier for us to work with than the well-marketed products such as Ensure or Boost.

Being tubeless doesn’t mean we are home free. Dressings will be the next topic!  And more of the mantra of protein and calories.