Sunday, November 13, 2011

New PEG - New Hope?

Today's date is 13th November 2011, our youngest daughter's birthday. It occurred to me that our country leaders are 20 years my junior but still my ‘in their mid-30s’ daughters’ seniors - and that's good!

Just 5 days ago, Pam was hospitalised (Day Surgery) for her overdue PEG-tube replacement. For many months, the old tube had been blocking up and otherwise temperamental and our Surgeon, Mr Chambers agreed that it was well overdue for a change. The poor old tube was knobbly and gnarled with bits of dried, caked food internally clinging in the bumps and frequently dislodging, subsequently causing difficulty.

Neither Mr Chambers, nor me as it turned out, had any idea of what the type of PEG the old one was. I thought it’d be in some hospital records, but not so apparently. I assumed it was a “non-balloon” PEG which has a different removal technique to the balloon type. Anyway, that wasn’t my problem and I got Pam to the Base Hospital at 9:30am as required.

I took Pam to the Day Surgery as required and she was soon transferred to a hospital trolley, but not a lot was happening thereafter so I eventually went home at about 11:30am to return closer to Pam’s recovery, post procedure. The old PEG indeed turned out to be a ‘non-balloon PEG’. For the curious, the non-balloon peg removal is demonstrated at

When I finally got to see Pam at around 2pm, I was VERY impressed with the new PEG. It was of clear quality soft plastic tube, balloon secured, slightly shorter and with NO tube clamp. The lack of a tube clamp had me bothered for a while until ‘the penny dropped’ and I realised that this meant that a potential force-feed pump issue no longer existed! Furthermore, I quickly discovered to my enormous pleasure, how easily PEG feeds and hydrations now flowed. In addition, being a balloon type tube, it suddenly comes into the class of Pam’s catheter situation – and I do these changes myself when necessary. I’ve already asked about my future changing of Pam’s PEGs and so far have had positive feedback from the hospital dietician. (Training will be required, but not until the next changeover.)

Pam got over the procedure quickly although I was lucky in that bed-space was found for her to stay over until Wednesday 9th, when I brought her home and had her there by 10am. The overnight stay was precautionary but fortunately unnecessary (in hindsight), as it turned out. It’s a pity hindsight is about as dodgy as foresight, isn’t it?

Life’s going along well enough at the moment although over the past two nights, Pam hasn’t been able to quite finish her 3-brix overnight feed. (Each of the ‘brix’ contains 237ml of food, totalling 711ml per night; 9:45pm – 7:45am.) Pam’s been feeling full with just 50ml still remaining and yet her dietician has specified she consume FOUR brix (948ml) of liquid food per night. The dietician wants Pam’s weight to reach 60kg, but at the moment she is 56.8kg and possibly now losing some. For many nights, Pam was managing 3 brix completely.