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Tube Feeding Tips: Eating Out
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Eating In a Restaurant

  My place at the Thanksgiving table.

So you’ve convinced the people around you that you are not going to be out of sight when it is time to eat. You also have them accustomed to treating you like any other human, the only exception being that you can eat and talk at the same time. It is now a question of where you decide to eat. You might not wish to venture out with your formula bag, and you don’t have to. But if you do want to “eat out”— for a change of scenery, to be out among people, etc.—you first need to convince yourself that you can, and that may be the toughest part.If you want to eat in a restaurant you have to be prepared with the right materials: your formula, a syringe, and any medicine you have to take. The medicine may already be in liquid form, which is nice, but if it isn’t, you’ll need your mortar and pestle. I am assuming you’ll have your extension set in your button and your syringe ready to go. Once you have the materials on hand you are ready.

I should explain I am a tube feeder with a button type of G-tube in my stomach because they had to take out parts of my throat in order to get all of the cancer. That was sixteen years ago, so what I have to say has some usage behind it. For me, it is easier if I am with someone else so they can order what they want and provide the corrections when the wait staff doesn’t understand me or has trouble making things out. 

I started out ordering a glass of water and an empty glass. I’d open my can of formula and pour it into the empty glass. It doesn’t matter if it won’t fit at one pouring. The rest goes into the glass when there is room. All you do is, leaving an air pocket in the syringe, fill the syringe with formula and slowly put it into your extension set. How slowly it goes in is up to you.

There are times when you have to take some medicine with the meal and that may mean using a mortar and pestle to grind the pill(s) to a fine consistency. At home I usually take some hot water to put with this and mix it up so I can get it in the syringe and then into the tube and my stomach. When out, I used to borrow my wife’s hot tea for the hot water. Now I find it just as easy to order a cup of coffee and use some of the coffee with the medicine and the rest of the coffee with the formula. You can use any other [non-alcoholic] liquid that you choose. If you do have medicine, get it out of the way.

When using coffee with my formula, I fill the syringe so far with formula and the rest of the way with coffee. This goes on until the formula is finished. A word of warning: if you are using a button that also has a medication port, you have to be careful that the port is closed the whole way and periodically check on it during feeding. One time I must have knocked it loose with my hand, and it came open when I put pressure on the syringe. It created quite a mess.  

Now about the water. If you have medicine, after taking it you should use the water to rinse the syringe out and flush the tube. When you are finished eating you should flush the syringe and tube also. One other thing I do is flush the syringe out with air at least three times, and the extension tubing, at least six times (after you take it off the button). This prevents any moisture from remaining in the tube when I store it. The rest of the clean-up consists of drying the mortar and pestle.

You would be surprised at how many people come up to me and say, “I wish my dad would do that as he has a feeding tube, too!” Little children who are curious come up to me and I just explain matter-of-factly that it is a different way of eating. No one has ever said they wouldn’t serve us, and if they seem hesitant you just have to mention handicapped. Our seven grandchildren have grown up with PopPop ordering a glass of water, an empty glass, and a cup of coffee. Sometimes I even order a scoop of ice cream and melt it in the hot coffee.

—Michael Brady
brady1202@comcast.net

LifelineLetter, November/December 2011
more Calendar

2/6/2017 » 2/10/2017
Feeding Tube Awareness Week

2/18/2017 » 2/21/2017
Oley exhibit at A.S.P.E.N.'s Clinical Nutrition Week

5/6/2017
Oley Regional Conference

This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.

 

Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 

 

This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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