That pathway between the abdominal skin and the inside of the actual stomach is called a channel. It is the pathway for the g-tube’s stem to get the balloon into the stomach.
In this diagram, the yellow area represents skin. The red area represents muscle. The channel is represented by the dotted lines going THROUGH the skin and muscle.
While piercing your ears is something that your body adjusts to and stops trying to heal shut, it is not the same with a g-tube channel. The body will do everything in its power to heal that closed if it has the opportunity. The opportunity comes in the form of an absence of the g-tube or “button”.
Sometimes the channel can heal closed in as little as 30 minutes.
We’ve had Little Miss show up in our bedroom in the morning with g-tube/button in hand because she pulled it out during the night. We’ve been able to reinsert it ourselves several times, but once it very nearly required surgery. Here are a couple pointers to help you in this situation.
1. Grab the lubricant and if the balloon is empty, lube it up and push it back in. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE SOME FORCE. That is what they’ll try at the hospital.
2. If the balloon is full, be sure to empty it first.
3. After you get it in you can decide if it needs to be replaced with a new one. Take a breath first! The most important thing is preserving the channel.
4. If you cannot get the g-tube back in place, we have succeeded this way;
Use something really tiny – we keep sterile one-ended q-tips on hand – the kind with cotton on only one end. Lubricate that NON-PADDED end and work at finding the point of least resistance into the channel. Be patient, be calm and just keep searching for as long as it takes.
When it pushes through you may be able to get the g-tube in right away.
If not, you’ll need to gradually dilate the channel opening. Keeping it well lubricated (the lubricant isn’t toxic, don’t worry if some goes inside the stomach), “stir” the channel in an attempt to widen the opening. Then find something slightly bigger – a regular q-tip that is only padded on one end. Continue this “stirring” process and finding other “tools” (NOTHING SHARP) to use to widen the hole a bit until you can insert the g-tube.
5. If none of this works, then it is time to head to the emergency room. Make sure you know ahead of time what hospital you want to go to – you certainly want one that is familiar with g-tubes in the emergency room.