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Any Backpack Can Be Tube-Friendly
My insurance company does not pay for enteral nutrition (EN/tube feeding) backpacks. In order to travel without my IV pole in tow, I decided to adapt a regular backpack to carry my EN pump and formula.
I bought a cheap backpack, making sure that it was deep enough to fit a full feeding bag above my pump. Over time, I equipped the backpack with two setups: one for a feeding bag with a drip chamber and one for a bag without a drip chamber.
For the feeding bag with the drip chamber, I hand-stitched two elastic ribbons inside the backpack, just below the top part (see figure 1), making sure that when the bag was in place it was well above the pump. This allows for a full drip chamber as long as the backpack is in an upright position. I stitched one of the elastic bands to the backpack on both ends; the second is stitched on one side only. To keep the feeding bag from sliding out of place, I attached the second elastic band with a safety pin to the first elastic band (see figure 2).
At first I also added an elastic band to keep my EN pump in an upright position (see figure 3). But I soon realized this was not necessary as my pump operates in all positions as long as the feeding bag is well above it. I now simply put the pump on the bottom of the backpack.
I cut a hole in one of the side pockets , so I can thread the tubing from the pump (inside the pack) to connect with my feeding tube (outside the pack). I sealed the edges of the hole with a lighter to keep it from fraying. (Editor’s note: you can also reinforce the area with an iron-on patch; follow manufacturer’s directions and use caution if the backpack is made of nylon.)
When I switched to feeding bags without a drip chamber, I had to add a second setup to my backpack. I could have changed the elastic bands to fit around the larger feeding bag, but instead I decided to add a hole in the top of the backpack, just below its handle (figure 4). I sealed the edges of the hole with a lighter. To use this setup, I thread an elastic band through the pre-cut holes on top of my feeding bag (figure 5) and out through the hole in the backpack. I tie the elastic band around the handle of the backpack, basically using the handle of the backpack as a “hook” for my feeding bag (figure 6).
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Feeding Tube Awareness Week
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Oley exhibit at A.S.P.E.N.'s Clinical Nutrition Week