Think about how many times today you went into the kitchen to grab a snack, or went out in public and saw a billboard centered around food, or watched a commercial advertising a new fast food joint. We have restaurants and shops and grocery stores every time you turn your head. Can you think of a holiday that doesn't involve some kind of food? Now imagine that you couldn’t eat any of it.
This week, February 7-13, is Feeding Tube Awareness Week.
What is a feeding tube, you may ask, and why do we need an awareness week for it? Well, it's a tube that feeds someone. There's different types and many, many different reasons for needing one, but the concept remains the same: it is a means of providing nutrition when someone, for whatever reason, cannot eat.
Let’s go to lunch. Why don’t we go out to eat? Can you come over for dinner? Normal phrases, but for those of us who can’t eat, they are difficult. I can eat small amounts of food on good days now, but many people can’t, and will never be able to. Can you imagine never eating your favorite food again?
I have one. And it's saved my life. I have a condition called gastroparesis, where my stomach does not process food correctly. Essentially, my body doesn't allow me to get the nutrition I need, because it doesn't absorb it. My specific tube uses a special kind of formula (easy to digest) and bypasses the stomach entirely. Handy, right?
A feeding tube allows me, and many others, to live and to thrive. It is what gives me the energy to go to school, to go the beach, to live a life that is independent of my chronic illness.
Some fantastic resources about feeding tubes include:
If you are the friend or relative of someone with a tube, are facing the possibility of getting a tube yourself, and would like to ask any questions, my personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org.