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Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Naso-Gastric Tube Experience

Whenever a patient has an abdominal surgery that involves manipulation of the gut in any way, the almost inevitable consequence of that post operatively is to have a tube placed in one nostril that goes down into the stomach.  The tube is then hooked up to suction and the gastric juices that are produced on a continuous basis are sucked out in order to allow the bowel to rest and recuperate. All of this is great, except the tube is truly awful.

First of all, it is a thick hard piece of plastic that one can feel quite painfully in both the nose and the back of the throat.  Then there is the gross factor.  Well meaning people visit you in the hospital and are confronted with unattractive green liquid rushing out your nose into a large container filled with similar looking material.  No one wants to hear that everyone's gastric juices look like this.  All they know is that yours do.  My youngest son thought that I had a ready made Hallowe'en costume without even trying.  Then there is the fact that the tube is heavy and there is no built in accommodation for this--if you let it swing free, your nose will be a wreck in no time, and hospital gowns do not have a pocket for the tube.  Such an oversight.  So the whole experience, while medically necessary, is an unpleasant one.  And don't get me started on having it replaced if it is pulled but then they decide that you actually still need it.  That is the stuff of nightmares.

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