The G-tube: Part Two

You can catch up on Part One here.

So, Penelope stayed in the PACU for about an hour. Once she was deemed ready, we were transferred up to the 7th floor, where she would stay until discharge. Upon our arrival on 7C, we were greeted by a nurse, who, as it turned out, wasn’t going to be Penelope’s nurse. She led us into the constant observation room, explaining that this was the only non-private room on the floor, but that the unit was full, so this is where we would have to stay for now. The room consisted of four patient beds, a patient bathroom, and a mini-nurses station. Penelope was assigned to the bed right beside the door.

This room was BUSY. People were coming and going constantly; phones ringing, babies crying, monitors beeping, etc. Luckily, Penelope was still pretty drowsy from the anesthetic and the morphine, so at this point, all the activity wasn’t bothering her. And I was just so relieved that everything had gone well that I didn’t care. There were only two cushioned chairs on the floor, both of which were in use, so I was given a regular plastic chair to sit in next to her crib, which I sank into happily, so relieved was I to have the surgery behind us.

Once we were all settled, Mark and my dad left the hospital, and I settled in to stay with Penelope. I had a book to read, and the hospital had wireless internet, so I could watch Netflix on my phone. The first couple hours passed comfortably enough. Penelope dozed on and off, and remained relaxed, despite the noise and all the tubes she had inserted. Her nurse checked on her frequently, and all was good. I had some dinner, and when I got back to the room, I started feeling pretty tired. I hadn’t slept much the night before, and it had been an emotionally draining day. Unfortunately, I was beginning to realize that sleep was probably not in the cards that night.

Penelope’s night nurse checked in with us after shift change and said that they had been hoping to get us moved into a private room by now, but that it likely wasn’t going to happen that night. She also mentioned that the mom of the baby in the bed beside Penelope’s doesn’t usually spend the night, so if she went home, I could have her pullout chair- the only one on the unit. I crossed my fingers that I could get my hands on that chair- without it, it was bound to be a long and uncomfortable night. That hard plastic chair which I had sat in, feeling so relieved earlier, was literally becoming a pain in the ass.

Around 8pm, the mom of the baby across from Penelope was heading home, and took pity on me and dragged her rocking chair across the room for me to sit in. I was grateful- though it wasn’t as comfortable as that coveted, cushioned, pull-out chair, it was still an improvement over my current seat.

Shortly after this exchange, another child was admitted to the room, and the noise level in the room increased correspondingly. Even though it was after 10pm, there was a steady stream of people coming in and out of the room, talking loudly, in addition to the monitors alarming and phones ringing. I was happy that Penelope was still quite drowsy from all the sedation she received earlier in the day- there’s no way she would have been able to sleep otherwise. Finally, around 11pm, the mom of the baby in the bed next to Penelope went home, and I laid claim to that pullout chair. Thanks to that chair, I was able to grab a bit of sleep, in about 20 minute increments, throughout the night. All in all, by the time Penelope had woken up for the day around 0430, I had slept for about 2-3 hours. So, not great, but better than not getting any sleep at all.

Wide awake, bright and early

Wide awake, bright and early

Penelope had woken up when the nurse came to check her vitals, and I could immediately tell that the sedating effects of the anesthesia and the morphine she had received had worn off. She was WIDE awake, and actually was pretty happy after she had a dose of Tylenol for pain. She was cooing and wiggling around, and I was so happy to see it. She was given a small amount of her formula through her new G-tube and she tolerated it well. This was a great sign.

Later in the morning, her nurse and I changed the dressing over her site, and it looked beautiful- no ugly redness or oozing. Another positive sign that she was recovering well. Her nurse also planned to take out the NG tube later that day, which I was really looking forward to. This NG tube that her surgeon had put in was much worse than the one she had at home- it was bigger, and she was having trouble swallowing with it in, and whoever had secured this tube to her face had inexplicably chosen to tape it right underneath her eye, and this offended both my mommy and my nursing sensibilities.

Seriously, who tapes an NG tube like that?

Seriously, who tapes an NG tube like that?

Around 0900, I felt that she was ready for a nap. I pulled the curtain around her crib to minimize distractions, and tried to get her settled. It didn’t work. Every time she fell asleep, something woke her up. A phone ringing, a monitor beeping, someone talking. As the day wore on and sleep continued to evade her, she went from mildly annoyed to cranky to enraged. I was told by the charge nurse that Penelope would get the next room that opened up, hopefully that afternoon.

Mark came by with Charlotte in the afternoon, and we switched roles. I  went home with Charlotte, feeling bad as I left him with an irritable Penelope. At least that awful NG tube was out by this time, so that was one less thing to bother her. Charlotte and I had a quiet afternoon and evening at home, and around 830pm, I heard from Mark that they had been moved to a private room. I was absolutely overjoyed to hear it. All afternoon, I had been worrying about how she and Mark would fare with another night in that busy room. After hearing that they had been moved, I was able to get a good night’s sleep.

When I returned to the hospital on Wednesday, I was rested and refreshed. Penelope’s IV had been taken out, so she finally had her hands free, for good now. She was fussy when I arrived, and it seemed that it was time for a feed. She was taking larger and larger volumes now at each feed. Once I had it going, she fell asleep. She slept through almost the entire feed, waking only towards the end. When it finished, I disconnected her and flushed the tube- and all hell broke loose. I don’t know if was just a coincidence or if the flushing of the tube triggered something in her digestive tract, but she proceeded to projectile vomit about 50 mL of her feed at the same time as an explosive stool made its way out of her diaper, and covered her dressing in poop. Thank god for call bells- I summoned her nurse, and we spent the next half hour cleaning the baby, the crib and changing her dressing.

After that, though, everything went pretty smoothly. I increased the volumes of her feeds more slowly to avoid another projectile vomiting incident, and after a far more restful night, we were discharged from the hospital by lunchtime on Thursday.

Happy to be at home

Happy to be at home

Since coming home, Penelope has continued to do well. She is SO happy to no longer have that NG tube and to have her hands free. She is full of big smiles, all day, every day. She has even had a bit of pureed food. She still gets fussy from time to time, we are still working on improving her feeding tolerance, and she still needs her dressing changed every day, but all in all, she is doing wonderfully. I want to thank everyone for all the well wishes and prayers that were sent our way for Penelope’s recovery. I’d also like to give a little shout-out to our friend, Amber, who owns a floral design business, serving the Durham region, called Wild Carrot Floral Design. She surprised us with a gorgeous bouquet of hydrangeas (which I love!) and chrysanthemums on Saturday, and I was bowled over by how beautiful the flowers were and how thoughtful it was of her to deliver them.

Beautiful flowers!

Beautiful flowers!

So that’s pretty much what to expect with a G-tube insertion. If you know anyone who is facing this procedure, or any other hospital stay with a little one, please share this post with them- the more you know about what to expect with something like this, the easier it is to handle. And I’m always happy to answer any questions or go into more detail if there’s something else you want to know.

We don’t know for how long Penelope will need the feeding tube. It could be months, years, or even forever. All I know right now is that she’s happy and she’s doing well. And that’s all that really matters.

So happy to see that messy face!

So happy to see that messy face!

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2 thoughts on “The G-tube: Part Two

  1. Hi Julie – I’ve been following along but haven’t commented so far. Your storeis bring back a lot of memories. Keep up the good work! Karen

  2. Pingback: The G-tube: Part One | A Mom of Steel

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