For Feeding Tube Awareness Week this year I wanted to share something I wrote last year. I wrote it for a fellow FPIES mom friends website, Awareness Critters, to raise awareness to both rare diagnosis and tube feeding.
I want to share how much having a feeding tube has positively impacted our son’s life.
A feeding tube should have been an easy decision. But, would it really help him? We knew if it would not help his allergic condition (FPIES) but they assured us they were confident it would help him, somehow. The final decision was left to us.
We decided to proceed forward, a large part of the decision now was because he was currently on TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) via an IV line in his chest. Trapped in that viscious cycle was a little boy who still had to enjoy eating and he was losing that battle, he had begun to refuse foods that provided nutrients he vitally needed; combined with villi damage from food trials left him needing TPN. But, after 8 mo. on TPN and before committing him to a port for continued and long-term TPN, his medical team wanted to trial one more formula and we would do this through an NG Tube which would be his first tests of how his body would handle enteral nutrition. We always remain hopeful that his body will accept the nutrition it needs but after a few weeks on this formula it became clear that even though he was not having a typical acute FPIES reaction to the formula; his body was not accepting it (initially by his outward demeanor, pallor, and sensory flares and then later confirmed by inflammatory markers in his blood and stool). We still don't full undestand this reaction to the formula but by this time, we had already committed to the G-tube and moved away from TPN. What would we do now? Had we made the wrong decision?
Having a G-tube with safe nutrition allowed us to finally not have to worry as much about his daily caloric intakes, how we would coax him to eat enough, doing ‘dream feeds’, staying home to prepare his foods safely and fresh. And it allowed us so much more. For the first time in years, we were able to keep his blood sugars stable, he started to sleep through the night – not waking up hungry, and he gained weight and, in time, it helped with his severe anemia. We relaxed around meal times, allowing him to eat his safe foods for pleasure. We relaxed our schedule at home, not having to plan the day around when, where and how he would consume his few safe foods. This allowed us to do more things outside of the home and expose him to more of life and less of hospitals. He has truly thrived. We are truly grateful for this hardest decision.