Extension Tubes and Gravity

How is your health insurance? Chronic complex health care requirements become expensive quickly.  My 12 year old daughter has been receiving complex medical care since she was just a few months old.   Natalie is fed via g-tube for medical reasons and one of our monthly expenses is a $55 co-pay for durable medical goods: her extension tubes and syringes.

When an extension tube is brand new it is soft and pliable.  As it ages it becomes stiff. This presents a problem because the easiest way to feed via g-tube is by using the clamp on the tube to prevent backflow.  When the tube is no longer pliable the clamp leaves a crimp in the tube that then has to be bent back to normal in order to allow the flow of the blended food  into the tummy. This is difficult and inconvenient. Feeding via g-tube is enough of a daily challenge without adding crimped tubes to the mix!

Here is what I do to be able to continue using the stiff tubes.

  • First of all, I wash and rinse tubes as soon as I am done using them. (Leaving them with food in them or soaking them in water both seem to deteriorate the tubes)
  • I do not crimp them once they begin to stiffen.
  • I use gravity to keep backflow at bay. Backflow is when the stomach contents come back out through the tube and make a mess.

Gravity helps me in this way:

When I feed Natalie, as I push the syringe’s plunger all the way into the syringe, emptying the syringe, I raise the port end of the extension tube so that it is as high as possible above the point where the extension tube connects with the g-tube. This allows the liquid in the tube to continue to move into the stomach and leave air space in the tube.

(If the liquid does not move into the stomach it is probably because the liquid is very thick.  In this case, it will not quickly run OUT of the tube either.)

I then have time to remove the syringe and close the extension tube with out using the clamp on the tube.  This allows me to use stiff extension tubes, and saves me money!  I like that!


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