Swapping out a G-Tube

People love when I swap out my feeding tube, so let’s dedicate a blog post to it!

The G-tube is hardly a permanent device. At least that’s what the told me to sell me on the idea of getting one.

Don’t worry, Gunnar. It doesn’t last forever!”

Little did I know that actually meant I’d have to swap them out every couple months (I’m actually pretty horrendous at sticking to the “every couple months” piece… I try to stretch out their lifespan as far as I can).

I use a Mic-Key low profile g-tube. It is BY FAR the best one on the market – as far as leak prevention and comfort are concerned. Low profile is (and isn’t) what it sounds like. It’s super small… but also fairly noticeable. After all…. It is a white tube in my stomach.

Some people opt for getting their tubes swapped out in the hospital or with help from a home health nurse… I’m not totally sure why. I was told that I should learn how to do it myself to prevent another trip to the hospital after trying to schedule a swap. Since then I’ve done it myself or with some help from Dr. mom.

Actually… fun fact… the first time I need to swap my g-tube, I had it done in an Emergency Room because the original tube fell out while I was sleeping. No one had mentioned how long a tube’s lifespan is, and as a result it was in my stomach for over a year and a half. Evidently they’ll just fall out if they stay in for too long. It was an eventful morning to say the least. Luckily I had a spare with me (always keep a spare handy) and slipped the new one in. Unfortunately no one had trained me how to secure it (which as you’re about to find out is super easy) and we wasted a trip to the ER.

Full disclosure… this is the one thing in all of my CF care that grosses me out. The thought of smelling my stomach juices on my old tube is a bit much for me to handle, but I suppose it really isn’t much a of deterrence from me wanting to perform this little at-home operation.

So it’s pretty easy. All that’s required is a little water-based surgical lube, a couple plastic cups, some distilled water and the g-tube kit.

A side note about the surgical lube… Some lubes contain chlorhexidine, which I am VERY allergic to. Make sure you’re always looking at labels before you’re about to do ANYTHING medical related at home – g-tube or not.

Let’s take a trip through my live tweeting to see the whole thing play out….

 

The whole thing takes about a minute or two and it DOES NOT HURT. After pulling the old tube, my mom said (to my horror), “I feel like I should switch my gloves, this is a little gross!

At which point I said, “Right now?! Are you kidding? I have a hole in my stomach.

She reluctantly agreed.

A water-filled balloon attached to the end of Mic-Key in my stomach is what keeps the device in place.

We drained the water in the balloon, applied some lube, pulled that SOB out of my stomach, cleaned up the mess with a gauze pad, applied lube to the new Mic-Key, slid that shit in and then filled the balloon with distilled water.

There’s a special valve on the Mic-Key which allows for us to draw out or inject water into the balloon.

Afterwards I’ll ran a quick bolus feed with some water to make sure it worked, and then presto! Onward with my day.

The worst part is throwing away the old one because it smells and looks super gross.

This has been an episode of swapping out feeding tubes with Gunnar!


Remember! Always chat with the doctor before you’re going to try something yourself for the first time!