It’s finally happening. I’m getting a feeding tube placed. My surgery is slated for November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving.
I don’t NEED it yet, not even remotely. My ability to swallow has not been hindered by my disease at all. I’m still able to eat perfectly. My breathing, however, is becoming enough of an issue that this surgery needs to move forward. Any time you go under anesthesia, there’s risks. But with my breathing numbers being what they are, the risk is far greater for me, and they are getting worse the lower my lung capacity gets. We need to get ahead of the surgery before it becomes completely impossible to perform. That’s why we’re doing this now.
Just because I’m getting it now doesn’t mean I have to use it. I’ll still be able to eat normally. Some basic maintenance will have to be performed daily, just flushing the tube with water and maybe changing some gauze daily. Eventually when eating becomes a chore, I can eat what I feel like eating and then just use the tube to supplement the nutrition I’m not getting because it’s too burdensome to eat. And then of course when I’m not able to eat at all, it will be my main source of calories. But I feel like that’s a long way off. My arms are going to quit before my jaws do. I’m going to have to have someone spoon feed me, before I have to use the feeding tube, but I think I’m going to be eating for a long time still. The installation of the feeding tube is literally just because I won’t be able to survive the anesthesia with my breathing being what it is for much longer.
We had the consultation last Friday, to answer any questions that I might have and to go over what the procedure is and nail down any details. I didn’t have a lot of questions, because I am a compulsive researcher and had already looked up a lot of it. I was told they were going to keep me overnight – THAT was a surprise. All of my research had indicated that this was a simple outpatient surgery. But no, my clinic typically keeps patients overnight for observation, so this will be my very first overnight stay in a hospital! I’m not sure how I feel about that, some combination of nervous about the procedure as a whole plus annoyed about not being allowed to sleep in my own bed plus excited for a new experience. I know damn well I’m not going to be able to actually sleep that night; no one ever sleeps in a hospital. I was kind of hoping to come home after the surgery and climb into my own bed while I was still kind of doped up on painkillers.
I’m not nervous about the surgery itself at all. It’s a super basic surgery, very little can go wrong, and the recovery rates are very quick. People in my support group have said that it’s not difficult at all except for the first day. The main thing I’m worried about is being able to transfer in and out of bed with a stomach wound. I basically have to use my arms and drag myself across the bed to get in and out to use the bathroom, and it’s a HUGE effort. If I’m absolutely unable to do so though, we have a Hoyer lift, and we’ve practiced using it. We’re not exactly smooth practiced professionals with it, but I think we can get the job done. I’m also incredibly pain tolerant, so the concern isn’t really that it’s going to hurt too badly to move, more that I will be physically unable to do so. I guess we will see how that goes.
The clinic called to make the appointment on Monday, and the first appointment they had was for Wednesday November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. The date actually worked out very well for a lot of reasons, primarily because Jay has that week off work. He takes so much time off of work to take care of me I really didn’t want him to have to take more days off on my behalf. We don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s a colonizer holiday, but we do like to eat so we typically just overeat and call it good. We won’t be able to do that on Thanksgiving this year because I’ll be waking up in the hospital with a gut wound, but we can make up for that at any time really. We will have a make up Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe even two. No one can stop me. MWUAHAHAHA
I’ve been sitting with the idea that a feeding tube was coming for over a year now, and the idea gained more solidity earlier this year when my pulmonologist basically said no. Really. You’re going to have to do this and soon. The clinic before last, I made up my mind to bring it up the next time I spoke to him, and next Clinic I was ready to make the appointment, but then my pulmonologist retired and I had a new one who wasn’t quite as gung-ho about it. I thought about it and contacted him after Clinic was over though, and asked him to set it up anyway. I’d like this over with. While I still have my contributions to my out-of-pocket maximum paid, before all that refreshes, and just so I can be done with it. I’m not in a hurry to get it done, not at all, but it’s this big deal that’s been hanging over my head for months and months.
This post is going to serve as my announcement to my friends that I’m getting this surgery the week after next. I purposely allowed myself a week to sit with the knowledge that I had the appointment and everything was said and I was ready to go. I wanted to let feelings settle in, before I was ready to answer questions and ready to talk about it. I’m doing surprisingly okay. I kind of figured it would be a much bigger deal? And maybe it will be once the surgery is done. I know I will be a bundle of nerves the actual day of surgery of course. But the significance of this surgery has not devastated me like I kind of expected it might. This is kind of it. From here, the next surgery is going to be the installation of a ventilator if I decide to have that. And I don’t think I will, at the moment, but that’s a problem for future me to work out. But this is the next big big step, the next big concession to my disease. I’m getting a feeding tube placed because I’m not going to be able to eat food like a normal human being. I’m going to have to eat blended food and give up one of the things that I enjoy very most in life. I love to eat. The main thing I’ve missed during this whole pandemic is eating in restaurants. And while getting the surgery right now doesn’t mean I HAVE to use the feeding tube, it’s an indicator that I’m GOING to, someday. Unless of course, my breathing is so shitty that it kills me first, which isn’t exactly a happier thought.
For now though, I’m handling it just fine. I’m a little nervous about the surgery itself, because I’m always nervous about surgeries, because there’s always a risk associated anytime you go under. But that’s not a big Cosmic worry, that’s just common sense worry. I’ve had ample time to mentally prepare for this. I have plans in place. We have prepared for the worst case scenario of me not being able to transfer in and out of bed. I’m doing okay. This is going to be just fine.
I can’t wait to share all the gross details with you once I’ve had it done.