"The tube seems to have coiled up in your stomach and is likely the cause of your pain. There are two options: 1) Come down to the hospital in Seattle and have it fixed/replaced, or 2) Have it removed, which is simple and can be done where you live. A decision should be made soon."
The words I had feared suddenly came to life and bounced around my head, reverberating throughout my body. Strange, because somehow, simultaneously I felt relieved. I wasn't crazy!
After finally healing from SIBO I was finally beginning to feel "normal" again, for living with GP anyways. However, about a month ago I started experiencing some pain around the tube site and under my right rib cage. At first, it seemed to be a flare so I just tried resting more, hoping it would pass. At that point I wasn't using the tube nightly anymore but as the days passed and pain increased I began using it more. Instead the pain intensified and by last week I was doubled over, at the doctor for the third time, insisting something was not right.
Early evening we found out the news with a recommendation to call the GI doctor in Seattle, who had originally placed the tube, first thing in the morning. My initial thought was I'm not crazy! Then, I have to survive another night like this? Unfortunately, I did not get much sleep but did enjoy some 3 a.m. tea and a good novel to relax and distract with. When I spoke with Dr. Ko from UW she gave me the options of removing or replacing the j-tube. Her recommendation, concerned about the recent weight loss from pain, was to replace it for a few months. My mother, caring and concerned, wanted the same. My head spinning, I let her know I needed some time to discuss this with my husband and would call back. This was not how it was supposed to happen.
As I curled up on T's couch in his office, knowing what I wanted to do but scared to commit, he gently went over the options with me, obviously very concerned and nervous himself. We both agreed it was time to have it removed, intuitively it just felt right. So, I called Dr. Ko as well as my local doctor to get the referral and had it scheduled for later that afternoon. Here comes the crazy part...they literally just pull it out!
First, I was surprised the location was at a clinic and not the hospital. T and I walked into what looked like a normal doctor's office and met with the nurse practitioner who worked in IR, Interventional Radiology, a speciality that places these tubes. She insisted it would not hurt and only take a matter of seconds. "You aren't going to give me anything," I gasped, noticing T was just as shocked as myself. She just sort of laughed and calmly advised us not to worry. She had me lie on the table in the clothes I came in (including my shoes) and examined the area. After removing the tape and protective gauze, I looked over at my husband, who reached out to hold my hand. Immediately, I knew everything would be okay. The nurse slowly began to pull it out. There are no words to describe that feeling. A little nausea occurred as this long snake of tubing slowly made it's final exit. A deep breath and Whoa! No pain, just absolute shock. I felt liberated, sort of like when our stomachs finally empty after hours of that uncomfotable fullness.
That evening I slept 11 hours and woke up to my first tube free shower. No tape, no flushing, no cleaning and no protecting. The hole was already closing and within a week I was told I could swim and soak in a hot tub again. Life felt good.
The feeling didn't last, as I now had to deal with the next issue at hand. Since the troubles had begun a few weeks prior, motility problems only worsened. I'm used to dealing with this and have remedies that always end up working for me when the body doesn't naturally figure it out. This time was different and I'm not sure if it was a decrease in calories due to pain, the tube misplacement or just the plain stress of these events, but nothing was working.
Coming from someone who works as a health coach, used to guiding others, this is very hard for me to share. I want nothing more than to have answers and provide hope and inspiration. I just received my certification from AADP, American Association for Drugless Practitioners and will complete my graduation at IIN in 2 weeks. That said, self-care must comes first, so I will be spending some time really focusing on getting over this hump. I'll do my best to update on the blog and continue to post on Facebook when I can. You have all been a big part of this journey with me and I want to remain a part of yours as we navigate our challenging paths together.
If you get anything from this post, please remember to ALWAYS be your own advocate and listen to what your body is telling you. Persistence does pay off when it comes to our health and our lives.
With gratitude for everyone in my life (physically and virtually!),