This May marks five years since I had my feeding tube placed, or to put it another way, my G-tube has been with my for 1/5 of my life.
It’s a strange thought. For years I rejected the idea of having a feeding tube – it just never appealed to me during my high school years – but now it has become a staple in my life. I’m not sure how I was capable of living without it. If anything, it has taken away the stress that comes along with over eating to fulfill my enormous calorie requirements.
Why do I have the feeding tube? Well I sort of answered that in a blog a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, which you can find HERE! The long and short of it is that during my sophomore year of college I dropped a significant amount of weight due to a bout of pancreatitis, which caused extreme weight loss. I’m a pretty big dude, just about 6’3, so when my weight dropped below 140, things went into crisis mode.
I have now had this thing so long, I have gotten to the point where I have learned how to control my weight better than any weight watchers program you might see on some TV infomercial at 3am. I can drop or add weight faster than Usain Bolt can run a 100m dash.
So, how much time have I spent using my G-tube? Over five years, lets just say that I use the feeding tube overnight 250 days in a year. That’s a pretty conservative estimate, I’d venture to guess it’s more than that, but let’s lowball it for convenience. Multiply that by 5, because I’ve had this thing for 5 years, and we get 1,250 days total. Each overnight feed lasts about 7 and a half hours for me, so if we use a little 7th grade algebra, we end up with 9,375 hours total. Over a 5-year period, I have been attached to the feeding tube for AT LEAST 9,375 hours. That doesn’t even count feeds that I may do during daylight hours.
The number of hours I have spent (and will continue to spend) attached to a pump overnight is quite an amazing stat now that I look at it for the first time myself here. That is nearly the equivalent of a full time job over a five-year stretch.
I’d be lying to you if I said that my life hasn’t changed over the course of those five years. It has changed, drastically. I have pretty much given up the ability to get consistent good nights of sleep, but who needs that anyway? I’ll sleep when I’m six feet under. My body’s shape has constantly changed, I have found bloating in different areas after a feed ends, especially in my face, which is certainly always pretty pleasant. And then, of course, there is the visual appearance of the tube itself. My little white buddy that protrudes from my stomach is always out saying hi when I go shirtless. Or I guess even when I have my shirt on too.
One time in college I was at a party (because I was cool) and I was wearing a tight shirt, size extra medium, so I could show off my chest definition, obviously. It turns out my shirt was so tight that the outline of my feeding tube was fairly visible. So I was just hanging out, you know, shootin’ the shit with some of the bros when a rocket of a girl walked up to me and grabbed the protruding device that was showing through my shirt and proceeded to say, “so what is this little thing?” My friends obviously knew what she was touching, but were speechless and could only wait to hear how I handled this one. I decided to go the generic route, “well I just had stomach surgery over the summer, it’s a little tube,” I said. Thinking that I had totally diffused the situation, I took a deep breath, but the girl came right back with, “oh don’t worry, I’m pre-med,” then winked at me, walked away and the rest was history.
There’s no hiding my feeding tube, and to be honest, I’m not sure why I would hide it. It has created a few life-changing challenges, but the benefits far outweigh (that’s a pun because we are talking about weight here) some of the temporary negatives. Nutrition is half the battle when it comes to fighting any illness and I have come to realize that more and more each day, month and year. My feeding tube is 100% apart of who I am, there is no denying it – my little party incident taught me that – and to be honest, I have no problem with that.
I’ll write about this again once I get into the neighborhood of 20,000 hours of use, and now that I’m out of college, the next time a girl grabs my tube through an extra medium size shirt, she’ll probably tell me that she just graduated medical school.
If you want to learn more about my life with a feeding tube, head over to the Video section of my website and check out my five episode podcast series I did last summer.
My Friends over at AbbVie asked me to share a little bit about their cystic fibrosis college scholarship program. Check it out!
The 2016 AbbVie CF Scholarship is now accepting applications from undergraduate and graduate students living with CF! 40 students will be selected to receive $3,000 each based on their outstanding academic record, extracurricular activities and creativity and will also have the opportunity to compete for public votes to qualify for the title of Thriving Undergraduate or Thriving Graduate Student for a total scholarship of $24,000 (the original $3,000 scholarship plus an additional $21,000).
Applications will be accepted from now until May 27, 2016 and are available online at www.AbbVieCFScholarship.com/apply. For more information about the application criteria, contest rules and upcoming deadlines surrounding the application process, and to view creative submissions of past winners, visit www.AbbVieCFScholarship.com.