The g-tube, also known as a feeding tube, was surgically placed when Lizzie was about 2 1/2 months old.  When Lizzie was a baby, she had some issues with eating.  It would take her about an hour to eat a 2 oz bottle.  And most of it she ate in the last 15 minutes of that hour.  Lizzie came home from the hospital with an ng tube (nasal gastric tube), which went into her nose, and then down to her stomach.  Since these are tricky to place (a wrong turn and you’d end up in her lungs), and they are easy to remove, so they are only a temporary solution.

Lizzie loved to pull this one out just before her 2 am feeding.  I would go in to feed her and know something wasn’t right, but not being able to put my finger on it (it was 2 in the morning).  Then after I reinserted the tube (checking placement with a stethoscope, which I’m sure any medical intern can tell you is fun when you’re not awake), she wouldn’t take a bottle from me for a week and a half to two weeks.  She would let my husband or my mother-in-law feed her, but not me.  People laughed when I told them she held a grudge.  I wasn’t kidding.  I mentioned it wasn’t fun to reinsert, apparently not for either of us.

At this time we were giving her any formula she didn’t eat through her ng-tube.  Anyway, when her weight gain slowed the doctors thought she was burning more calories sucking than she was getting from the formula).  They told me to only feed her 20 minutes (remember it took her 45 minutes to get good at it), and then pump the rest through her ng-tube.  At the same time, she had a speech therapist, who was insistent on getting her to change her embouchure (mouth structure) when she was sucking.  Between the two, Lizzie (who has always been known to have a mind of her own) seemed to decide she was done trying to eat from the bottle.

That’s when we were told we should get a more permanent feeding tube.  It wasn’t much of a choice, since she wasn’t eating anymore on her own.  We had the tube put in in October 2004.

The g in g-tube stands for gastrostomy and means that it goes directly into her stomach.  There is another kind called a j-tube (jejunostomy) that goes into a part of the intestines, and there are g/j-tubes which are a combination of the two.  Your condition dictates which tube is best.  Lizzie’s is just a g-tube.

There is an opening in her stomach called a stoma, this is a hole made by a surgeon through her abdominal wall, and into her stomach.  This allows a button (which kind of resembles a valve on a beach ball) to be inserted into her stomach.  On the other end of the button, on the inside of the stomach, is a balloon filled with water to hold it in place.  It can be replaced at home.  There is then a tube that attaches to the button called an extension.  A bag which holds the food attaches to the extension and threads through a pump that pumps the food (similar to baby formula) into her stomach.

It is actually very simple to use.  Of course I would still prefer that Lizzie could eat food by mouth and enjoy tasting food the way we do.  She does work on that when she can, but for nutrition sake, we use the feeding pump and her tube for 100 percent of her food right now.  Someday maybe she’ll be able to eat regular food.  I still hope.

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