Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Feeding (Tube) Frenzy
The short answer for why I have not been around for the last eighteen days can be found in the post title--I have had surgery in orer to insert a feeding tube into my stomach. The longer version involves having surgery to insert a feeding tube into my stomach and then being hospitalized in a physical rehabilitation facility, both on semi-hostile grounds. By late December, it had become obvious to everyone by my ineffectively bouncing between the hospital for treatment and home for recovery that I was on the slow march to twilight. Aside from the excessive, rapid weight loss itself, my heart rate had shot up and stayed up to the the point I am on medication to slow it down now. There was also a fear of kidney function loss, perhaps even to the eventual point of failure. On January 4th, my home healthcare nurse insisted I go to the hospital for fluids. Unbeknownst to me, she insisted the hospital not release me afterwards. I will not beat around the bush here--my home healthcare nurse, the emergency room physician, and my own doctor staged a literal intervention own in the emergency room. Was I trying to kill myself? Did I want to die? Did I think I was clinically depressed? The actual answers to those are too personal to go into but, but suffice to say, I agreed to Have a feeding tube put in to prove I did not want to die by my own hand. The answer satisfied all parties as to my intentions, an three days later, I had the surgery. A few days into my hospital stay, there was a consultation meeting with a counselor from the Depart of Health and Environmental Contro,l (DHEC) the government agency in charge of home healthcare and such, in which I was informed I needed 24 hour care for the foreseeable future not in a regulat hospital and certainly not at home. The intimation was a subtle, but clear threat that if I did not cooperate, DSS would look into the suicie claims. I cannot imagine what what DSS could legitimately find in that regard, but the message was clear. I agreed to go to a rehab facility. For the duration. The duration turned out to be a scant twelve days at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. HealthSouth takes a holistic approach to treating strole victims, major injury sufferers, and post-surgery patients. In my caes, dieticians took over my weiht gain struggle with a combination of feeding tube supplements and regular meals while physical therapists worked to regain my strength and function. I had a serious chip on my shoulder for the first few days because of how I was literally bullied into going there, but I could not argue with the quick results. I was released this morning in the best shape I have been in since my diverticula burst. Several concluding points: I am not now, nor have I been at any time in the last three months, suicidal. Depressed, certainly. Maybe even resigned to death at times, but not actively trying to kill myself. Chalk up the accusation to alarmist reaction to how depleted I became due to illness. That said, the feeding tube has been a lifesaver. I get up to four protein supplements a day which have stopped the weight loss and given me a boost of energy. The sheer act of “eating” without having to taste food has been a blessing. I now avoid the nausea that used to come from eating when I did not want to that often lead to illness, dehydration, and further weight loss. I could burst into tears every time I look down at this tube hanging out my abdomen, but there is not doubt it is the only thing keeping me alive. I am back on and will be for the next thirty days the same appetite enhancer given to chemotherapy patients in an effort to gain weight. I am currently 76 pounds. These are meals in addition to the feeding tube supplements, so I often feel like I am bursting at the seams. I am still dependent on a walker, but HealthSouth has ended my bedrien days as long as I can keep up the pace. My heart rate needs medication to slow ir down now. There is probably a pacemaker in my future. But, hey--three weeks ago, my future was a rave beside my mother in Magnolia Cemetery by Easter. At least now I am hanging on.