Tuesday 6 February 2018

GUEST Post by Nicole for Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2018

Today marks the start of feeding tube awareness week. 

I've lived with an NG (naso-gastric) feeding tube for the past nearly 3 years. An NG tube goes into your nose, past your throat, down your esophagus and into your stomach. 

Many reasons exist that in turn may result in someone requiring a feeding tube. The condition which results in my need for a feeding tube is called psychosomatic/functional vomiting, what this means is I cannot keep food down and most liquids as when I swallow most things my brain sends the wrong signals to my stomach, instead of telling the stomach to digest food my brain tells my stomach that what I've swallowed is harmful and to get rid of it. 

Having a feeding tube isn't easy, it's really quite difficult at times. With a nasal tube one of the biggest issues is the stares from other people as it's not the norm to have a tube on your face, stares from people can often result in feelings of insecurity, embarrassment and upset. However, feeding tubes don't have to hold you back. At the beginning of last year I was at a low point regarding my self esteem. I felt very down about having a feeding tube and it was really starting to affect me. April last year I entered a prestigious beauty pageant in the UK, not thinking I'd get anywhere with it. I was gobsmacked to receive notice that I'd been selected as a grand finalist to compete as one of 15 girls aged 19-29, representing Scotland at the final. I went on to compete last March. I felt rather nervous about competing with a feeding tube, unsure of the reactions I'd get however on stepping on the stage my confidence grew massively and I rocked it! It was truly the confidence boost I needed and since then I've never looked back. 

I think it's all about how you view having a feeding tube. Before I viewed it very negatively and in a lot of ways I felt like it held me back. Since starting to compete in beauty pageants my views have very much changed. I now see it as something positive in a lot of ways, I don't mean I want a tube I more mean I view it as something that helps me along the way. Without it I really struggle. I don't retain proper nutrition and therefore struggle with exhaustion, body heaviness, irritability, negative mindset, difficulty concentrating. I've trialled 2 separate occasions of 10 weeks each without enteral feeding, with the latest one being last year. It was awful! In the month of July last year I spent 26/31 days either inpatient in hospital for my vomiting or attending Accident and Emergency, the remaining 5 days I spent in bed. I definitely don't want a tube but I want the positives that come alongside having a tube. A feeding tube helps give me some sort of quality of life that exists out with a hospital setting or the 4 walls of my bedroom and it also allows me to do more of the "normal" things that any 24 year old does. 

I do still live in hope that one day I will be able to look back upon this as some sort of nightmare that's now over and I'll be able to sustain myself nutritionally via oral eating.