Button Change

Every 3 months I have my feeding tube taken out and a new one put in. (it sounds worse than what it actually is).

Last night was the first night I changed my tube myself without a nurse assisting or even just being there. It was just me, and my kind of nervous dad. He and my mum have been trying to persuade me to book a nurse to come to our home to assist me in changing it, as I’ve always done for the last 6 years however I wanted to do it myself this time. (plus I was scared of contacting the nurse I had last time as she was a bit scary and basically quizzed me on everything I was doing whilst doing it – I felt like I was doing an exam on top of a practical!! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Anyway, I felt confident that I could do it myself! I just needed one person with me to pass me the stuff. There’s not much that can go wrong.

When I’ve told people that I have my tube changed every 3 months or so, they normally cringe a bit and ask if it hurts. 1, I know it sounds quite…. Icky? (couldn’t think of another word๐Ÿ˜‚) but it’s really not that bad and 2, no… It doesnt hurt. It can be a bit sore but I’ve found a technique to help with that.

It’s not as bad as you might think. A nurse once described it to me as “taking out an earing and putting a new one in but without the back part” and it is, technically.

Above is a photo of all the equipment I use to change the button. (again… It looks scarier than what it actually is). I must say, it is all sterile and everything. Me and my dad (who was the one passing me the stuff) washed our hands thoroughly too – don’t worry we know about hygiene and sterile stuff from our experience of hospitals! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚

Now I’m going to explain to you the parts I use (I don’t actually use all of it – I don’t need to)

This is cool, boiled water. I boil the water up in a kettle and pour it into a mug or cup or whatever and leave it for a while for it to cool down. I can’t remember the full reason why we do this, but I know it’s more clean and sterile to be put in the balloon of the button that way. We always do this when I change the water in the button every week too.

These are two syringes. One is filled up to its max of 5 mil – ready to put into the new balloon once changed. And one is empty and will be used to take the water out of the old balloon.

When changing the water in the balloon (weekly), I know if the balloon is fraying by the colour or consitency of the water… If the water is cloudy and/or a funny colour then I know I need to change the button soon.

Now this is the important bit…. The actual tube. I’m sorry I didn’t get a close enough photo (I forgot๐Ÿ˜‚).

I’ve found a photo online… Source unknown…

So yeah… That’s what it looks like in its full form. And as you can probably see from my photo… Its so small!

The balloon… As you can see from this picture… Holds the tube in place inside. It doesn’t actually go that far into the stomach (as many people assume), well my one doesn’t anyway. It only covers the top stomach lining.

And it just slots into the small hole in my stomach. A small bit of plastic. My own belly button. And it’s the only belly button I’ve got.

So that’s all the equipment used to take an old button out and put a new one in. Now you’ve got all the info on each part.. Let me explain the whole procedure in steps…

1) I get the equipment ready and wash my hands (obviously..) I also test the new tube’s balloon by filling it up with water and taking the water out again. I need to make sure the balloon has no leaks or anything that could affect the position of the tube or tube itself.

2) I lay down in a comfortable position. (laying down is the best position as you’re muscles are more relaxed and not tense)

3) I get passed over the empty syringe and connect it to the little nozzle on the side of the tube. I then take out all the water in the balloon (should be 5 mil)

4) I disconnect the syringe and hold the tube in place. Its unlikely but there is a chance the tube could just pop out. I want to make sure I have the new tube in hand just in case. (it depends on the person but I have been told there has been some cases where the hole in the stomach has automatically closed once a tube isn’t present… And I can’t risk that as that means having another procedure to have another hole put in)

5) I start my breathing technique. I breathe in…. And out… And in… And out… And so on.. Until I feel ready to take it out. I take it out as I breathe out. This is a technique that I was introduced to a couple of years ago. It makes it less sore to pull out as your muscles relax as you breathe out.

6) Once its out.. My stomach makes weird noises (as expected…. Last night it sounded like my stomach was blowing a raspberry๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚) and I get passed the new tube and pop it straight in. It literally just slides in.

7) I then get passed the syringe with 5 mil of water in and connect it to the side nozzle on the tube. I slowly fill the balloon of the tube with water.

8) I then give it a quick, gentle twist to make sure its secure enough but also free to move a little.

And that’s it. All done. The actual taking the button out and putting a new one in, takes a few seconds. It’s really not that bad…. But saying that, I’ve had to learn to adapt to it for the last 6 years.

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Hope at last and … Gangnam style?

I’m a few days late but this post is going to be about what happened this month 6 years ago..

I think the easiest way is to share my statuses and explain them the best I can, so first of all, here are my facebook statuses from March 2013… (By the way – I did have the exact date for each of these but I’ve lost them๐Ÿ˜‚ but they are in order! Haha)

So… this status above. For some reason, in my head they discovered my stomach was large in September 2012 … but by this status, maybe they discovered it later on down the line…

I remember having the tube inserted during x-ray (I was awake). They had to do it under x-ray because of the shape and size of my stomach. It wasn’t pleasant to say the least!

And yes… by this point I was very well known in the x-Ray department. As soon as I arrived I didn’t even have to say my name – they knew me so well and just was like “hey Katie!”๐Ÿ˜‚.

It was also by this point, where I’d had enough of having time of school… I was bored and missing my friends. I was also missing normality.

And this is where Gangnam style comes in… ah. This story still makes me chuckle๐Ÿ˜‚.

So… yeah. Also this status also mentions the time when my surgeon and his team ‘discovered the problem’ – which again, in my mind I thought that was discovered in September 2012 … obviously not๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚. But then again, this may have been an additional problem?๐Ÿค”

So they found that by inserting a balloon inside of me… they could open up the top stomach valve which was almost so tightly shut .. so much so food was struggling to go down.

I remember being wheeled back to my ward after being in recovery and seeing my surgeon and his team standing outside my door… all smiling at me and my dad. It was weird … but a good weird….

When I find out why they were standing outside and what they had discovered – it felt like a massive relief! I was so happy that there was a reason as to why I had been struggling the way I had been – it wasn’t my fault! There was a problem there! And this problem could now possibly be solved!

Oh and the ‘Gangnam style’ situation …. I can still, to this day see my surgeon and his team dancing around the operating table to it…

I remember this PH Test… I had that tube down one nostril and my feeding tube down the other nostril … it was like my nose was a bloody charging socket! ๐Ÿคฃ

I can’t actually remember the results of this test … I just remember how uncomfortable it felt..

Battling my Mental Health

I’m currently sitting here, typing, whilst crying. I’m having a low day. I’ve been meaning to write a post like this for while, after it was suggested to me to do one. I just haven’t had the opportunity. I thought I’d write it now, whilst I’m feeling the way I am so I can tell you exactly how I feel on a low day. I’m doing this because I think not only that it might help others (I’ll mention ways I’ve coped with it in the past), it might help me at this current stage.

So, here we go. Where do I begin? haha. That’s one of things that happens when I’m low, I suppose. I get confused. I don’t know where to start when it comes to any issues I’m having. You know when your earphones get tangled up in your pocket? That’s what my head feels like at the moment. Like every thought is just tangled up into one ball of wires or something. It hurts. Emotionally, it hurts. I feel both sad and angry at the same time but I can’t pin point why.

I’ve slowly been feeling like this over the last few days. I’ve felt it building up, but I just can’t stop it. The lowness takes over like a black cloud slowly moving and hovering over me. I try to convince myself that everything’s fine. Everything’s working out. I’m starting to have job interviews, I’ve found a new hobby that I enjoy, etc. Everything is looking up. But apparently it’s not. The way I tell myself that I am okay is actually quite strange and varies. One of these ways, is by posting regularly on social media. Now, you’re probably confused and thinking, everyone posts on social media – why is that strange? For me, I get a bit obsessed, I suppose. Especially with snapchat. You see, I’ve got many friends on snapchat and I like to feel that I’m not lonely. It sounds sad, I know. But my way of not feeling the loneliness that comes with the lowness is by posting almost constantly on snapchat. That way I feel that people are seeing my snaps, and getting involved by seeing them or laughing at them (I like to post amusing snaps when I can) and sometimes people will message me about them.

You’re probably wondering 1) that’s not really strange or anything – it’s my snapchat I can post whatever I want to my story, and I can post how many times I want. And 2) if I’m feeling lonely, why don’t I message a friend?

Now, I’ve always been like this but I cant get out of it. I’ve got many people I can talk to. I know that. And I appreciate that. I’m just worried that if I focus on just one person and constantly go to them with my problems – I’m going to annoy them. So if I’m feeling down or lonely, I’ll keep it to myself or if I did want to talk to someone but not go to someone directly, I might put a message on my snapchat or other social media along the lines of “someone talk”.

Some people might look at that as attention-seeking. I don’t see it as attention-seeking. I’m just asking for a bit of help. I don’t like doing it, but sometimes it feels like my only option. (I know there’s better options but in the moment, that’s the only option)

Another thing I’m thinking at the moment, is that my life isn’t going anywhere. I’ve been applying for jobs but not hearing back. I’ve spent so long spending time at home. I’m lonely, I’m bored. And I really don’t know what to do. I have a career goal. I’ve had the same career goal for years now. I just can’t get on that ladder.

I’m also a bit scared for my future. I worry that if I did get a job, will I be able to cope? Will my condition effect me in the workplace? Will I have the confidence to meet and talk to others? But also with situations not to do with working. Like, how will my condition effect me in the future? Will I ever settle down with someone? It’s kind of scary not knowing what the future holds anyway, but come to think of it, even now I’m going about my life taking it day by day. Who knows what could happen. My condition could worsen in 24hrs. I don’t know what my life will be like in an hour. Never mind my future. I’m scared of what might come. Throughout the last 21 years of my life there’s been highs and lows. At this moment, I can only see the lows.

HOWEVER! As I’ve been typing this out, I’ve been thinking … hang on … no I am okay. I’ve just re-read it all back. Things aren’t as bad as I keep thinking they are.

You see, to start with I mentioned my new hobby and the job interviews I’ve been having. That’s two positives right there! That shows that I am moving upwards in the world. They’re small, normal things but they’re giant leaps for me. The new hobby, baking, is an incredible move upwards for me. I was scared of food 4/5 years ago. I couldn’t look at a piece of toast with feeling anxious and sick. I’m now baking. I’m creating and enjoying food!! And with the job interviews, It’s only recently I’ve started having them. The fact that my application, my CV is being noticed. And I’m being shortlisted. That’s incredible! I will get something someday! But it will happen at the right time! I’m also having driving lessons. And they’re going really well! That’s something else that’s really positive!

And with the constant social media posts, I’m not posting every minute haha! It’s a few snaps a day. I’m letting people into my life. I’m giving people insight. I’m sharing my story. Social Media is a wonderful thing! Why my make the most of it? I’m not posting anything harmful or rude. I’m sharing happy posts, and occasionally asking for a friend to talk to! Social media is for connecting with people! Why should I be worried about how many times I post? And what I post?

With regards to feeling lonely at home. There’s nothing really much I can do at the moment. Unfortunately I’m at the age where I have friends of similar age of me who are working. And so meeting up is quite hard. But again, I have social media. I have texting. You know, I can contact people in other ways. I don’t need to have them around me physically. I can talk and have a laugh with them online.

When it comes to my future, excuse my language, but who the fuck knows what their future will hold? No one knows for certain. So why worry about it? I’m stable at the moment. I’m not limited in what I can do. I shouldn’t sit a fret about what’s to expect. I should focus on now. What I’ve got and what I can do.

Because actually….. I’m in a good place right now.

Ideas

This is a quick post to ask for suggestions about what you, as a reader, would be interested in reading about on this blog.

Unless something significant happens in my life, I don’t really have much to say currently. I could carry on with my story but the next part is the big chunky bit about the year 2013 when a lot happened with regards to having many many operations and my life changing. But ideally I’d like to start that in January – as that would mark 6 years.

Is there anything you’d like to know about me, anything you think you would be interested in finding out about me and my story? Maybe there’s some advice you think I could give?

Let me know by commenting on this or, as I will be sharing on social media, on any of my social media platforms.

Thank you,

Katie x

6 years continued + update on recent events

Hi! I know we’re in the middle of October now, well actually near the end, but I thought I’d complete the “6 years continued” story. To be honest there’s not much more to say, but I’ll tell you what happened the days leading up to me being discharged and what happened after I was discharged. (If you need a reminder of what’s happened up to this point, please check out my previous blog posts with “6 years continued” in the title)

As well as this, I will be updating you on recent events in my life. Quite significant things. To me anyway.

So, last time I mentioned the x-ray I had, the conclusion the doctors came to from seeing my notes, and briefly mentioned the picc line I had inserted.

Because, by that point, I could hardly eat anything – my new consultant believed a picc line would be most useful for me to have. If you don’t know what a picc line is, it’s basically a long tube that goes through a vein in, normally, your arm, to your heart. Or near your heart. It is a form of nutrition. But obviously, only used when people are seriously unwell.

Having this meant I didn’t have to worry about the fact I couldn’t eat and so was loosing a lot of weight and nutrients. This would help build me up whilst I was in hospital. At this stage I also had an NG tube (a tube that goes up my nose and down into my stomach). Gradually, I started having tube feeds. So a milk-like substance with all the nutrients and vitamins I needed was pumped into my stomach without me having to do anything. Little did I know, this was to become a regular routine of mine. I was at Kings for about 2 or 3 weeks (I can’t remember exactly)

During the last week or so I was just resting really. Understandably I had to, but it was hard because I was away from home. Yes, I had my dad with me. But my mum and brother wasn’t with me. They visited a few times, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t the same. I missed Home. I missed my friends. I even missed school.

The time came when my consultant was happy for me to be discharged, from King’s at least. He told us that they do need to operate however I still need to become a bit stronger, so he advised me to keep the picc line and NG tube.

I was then transferred from King’s to my local hospital. I stayed there for a couple of weeks. (I think, it might have been a bit longer) During this time I rested, had my picc line flushed every so often and began having regular tube feeds. And because I was now only about 10/15 minutes away from home, I was able to have many visitors. And Dad was able to go home and have a proper rest (because it was a tiring, stressful time for him too).

It was nice, in a way, but it wasn’t my proper home. I wanted my own bed. I wanted normality. I think at this point, I started to wonder, will ever have normality again?

Eventually I was aloud home for day visits. Haha, sounds like it was prison or something. The reason for this, is because I was having my ‘feeds’ at night. And so, during the day, I was free to do whatever. There was nothing for anyone to do to me during the day. So they decided that I could spend my days at home. And they eventually even said I could go back to school (which, by this point, I was thrilled about!)

I was quite fortunate that my school was sooo understanding and supportive. Me, Dad and mum went for a meeting with the assistant head at the time. We explained what had happened and what is planned to happen. Obviously, I had my tube in, on show, too and they took this into consideration, understanding that ideally I couldn’t be in the busy school corridors at break/lunch times and during lesson changes. They decided that I would be best going to a room called ‘AP’ (Alternative Provision – I think). It’s a room where I could do my lessons, have a teacher come down every so often to talk to me and give me some work to do. That sort of thing. They also decided I should be on short days. So i’d only be in for a few hours a day. This way I wouldn’t tire myself out too much.

So a regular day for me during that time, would be that I would wake up in hospital. I’d get up, be disconnected, go have a wash, get ready etc. Then mum would pick me up and take me to school. I would then stay for a few hours then be picked up and taken home. Then during the evening, I would be taken back to the hospital, get settled in and be connected ready for bed.

Eventually, the staff felt that me and my parents were ready to learn how to set up the pump. You have to be trained up on it. It’s quite simple so me and my parents caught on quite quick. When the staff acknowledged that we all knew what we were doing. We all knew about hygiene etc, I was allowed home permanently! I could have my feed at home. I could sleep in my own bed – yay!

We were all so happy! Finally – after what felt like months and months – normality! To be honest, after this, each day was the same. I’d get up, disconnect myself, get ready, go to school for a few hours and come home. I would then go to bed, in my own bed. That’s it. During my time at school, as well as what I previously said, eventually friends would come in to see me and I would also pluck the courage to go to some of my lessons. I thought – yes I’ve got a tube in my nose, so? It doesn’t bother me anymore. Yes people stared. But I just ignored them. That’s all I could do really.

Anyway, it got to November and, I remember this moment quite well, the post arrived one morning. I had just come back from shopping with a friend. It was addressed to my parents I think. But I knew it was about me, it had Kings college hospital on the envelope. This was it. This was the date of my operation. I opened it. I was right. “Katie has been booked for her operation on Friday 18th January 2013”. I looked at it. I felt a bit of excitement – because I knew that this operation could really help me as I was really ill (although the reality of how ill I was hadn’t hit me properly yet). Then all the nerves came at once. I cried. I was shaking. This felt real. I was having an operation. A big operation. I was going under the knife. I was having my organs moved around. Would I make it? What happens if things go wrong? I was scared. I hugged mum and Dad. Of course, I knew, we all knew, I had to have this surgery. But it’s scary. For all of us, but especially a 15 year old girl with her life ahead of her.

Below is a photo of me with all of my equipment. I think it was taken for an art project. I did a project on medical equipment. I found medical art and that and researched them. I drew a copy of this photo. (I thought it was interesting at the time) Sorry, I look a bit miserable – I don’t know why haha๐Ÿ˜‚

Okay so, nicer things now! I also said in this blog I will mention what I’ve been up to recently. You’ve probably noticed in a couple of my posts, that I’ve mentioned that I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression a bit in the past. I have good and bad days – physically and mentally! However recently, in both ways, I’ve been having many good days. I’ve been feeling positive, confident and quite motivated actually. I’ve challenged myself and taken on things that I would normally hesitate at and avoid.

These things include; going to a job interview and starting driving lessons! It may seem like normal things to many people – but to me. That’s two massive achievements!

Another thing, which I have surprised myself with – is that I’ve started taking up baking as a hobby!

Now, you will find out in detail why I, and my family are quite surprised by this, in future posts but let’s just say, my relationship with food has never been good. I’ve had times in my life when I can’t even be around food. But you’ll find out all about that in due time. So, yeah I absolutely love baking! It makes me happy and it’s a way that helps me show my creative trait.

That is all for now. Sorry it’s been so long! X