It was Thursday night and I was getting ready to meet Grete, a family member, at a restaurant for dinner. Dennis was back in bed after an afternoon in the recliner. I crushed up his evening pills, dissolved them in some water and took them over to pour them in the feeding tube. It was about time for our hired caregiver to arrive, and for me to leave.
I hooked up the syringe/funnel to the husband’s feeding tube and poured medicine in and watched as a wet circle appeared on his shirt. I checked my connections with alarm and couldn’t see any leaks or openings. Then I lifted the shirt and discovered the real cause. The other end of the tube was no longer in his stomach.
There it was, with the balloon that was supposed to keep it in place mostly deflated. I didn’t know when it had come out, or why, but it probably didn’t take much to bring it out. Something like this had happened when he was in the nursing home and it resulted in a trip to the Spooner ER for tube replacement.
I seriously entertained the thought of sticking the thing back in, and would have tried if I had known I could inflate the balloon to keep it in. I didn’t have the right kind of syringe to do that, so I followed plan #2, call the Hospice nurse. Let someone else decide…
I also called Grete and asked to postpone our dinner to another day, knowing that it might take a while to see this circumstance to a satisfactory end. I also called the caregiver and told her we most likely would not be home. The husband and I were stepping out for the night.
Hospice called the ambulance for me and they were soon at the door. Dennis knew enough to be a little anxious but I reassured him that we were going on this adventure together. He laughed. I like that he laughs at my jokes a lot more these days. “Adventure for you,” he said.
After our short ride in the ambulance we were introduced to our ER crew and gave them the story. You have to understand that after a tube like this comes out something should be done very soon to keep the tract open. The PA attending us knew that but unfortunately he had never encountered this problem yet and didn’t think they even had another gastrostomy tube in the ER. Lucky I had brought the old one along in a zip-lock. That’s what they ended up using.
It wasn’t easy to get it in, but after several attempts and a couple techniques, it was replaced and the balloon inflated. I’m a little worried that there might be a slow leak in it, and we might have another event in the future, but so be it. We were discharged and back in the ambulance for the ride home within three hours. That is amazing for any trip to the ER.
The husband got pretty tired out, but I think he kind of enjoyed the extra attention, meeting new people, new places, all that. Isn’t that what we hope for on “date night”?
Note to self: Get one of those feeding tubes before the next time – I bet they have them on Amazon.