Updated: Sep 11, 2018
In my previous post I mentioned my family was put in the dreadful position of deciding whether to put a feeding tube in my grandmother because she was weak, dehydrated and coughing/choking when eating. I wanted to scream, but I contained myself because this is an inappropriate display of emotions and reactions. My mother already had enough stress not to add me to the mix. In that moment my thoughts went to, is this really happening, please get better (better defined as EAT) so we don't have to make this decision. Then the voice in the back of my head said remember what you tell all your patients' who have scared families'. You may not want to hear this and I understand it seems like if she doesn't eat she will starve and that is cruel. Something you need to know is putting a tube in the stomach for nutrition WILL NOT
stop the disease process-
make her eat
keep her alive longer
be pleasant or comfortable
AND IT WILL
likely cause aspiration and an infection in the lungs
likely speed up decline and death (YES)
cause discomfort and pain
remove all joy and pleasure in eating
you are better off taking the time to hand feed with extremely small bites, watch her closely, provide exceptional mouth care and spend time. I'm here for you if you need to hear this many times and know that you are doing the right thing.
Thankfully my grandmothers' doctor was really kind, attentive and good at explaining all conditions. He talked through every option with us and entertained our questions like can we get a swallow study, wait another day, she ate some idly this morning. We too even a family of medical professionals had the same struggle and questions as anyone else. I however, heard the tiny voice in my head, do you really think putting a gastric tube will change her situation. Can't that also result in aspiration, infection, fluid retention, abdominal distention and worse, death? Even with this he responded gently yes, all that is true so I'll let you think and talk and we can discuss the next day. What's there to discuss...this time she will come through this, eat, we will avoid the tube, take her home, train caregivers, pray she doesn't have another event and then wait and see. God, this really sucks...
My point in sharing this, is to say, I understand. I know most families don't have someone like me-knowledgeable, educated and practical yet also sensitive, empathetic, compassionate and human. If you want someone to talk to, connect with, get clarification and above all help you make a fearless, guiltless decision please message me.