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Newsletter: Forty Years on HPN
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Forty Years on HPN

Jim Wittmann

            At sixty-five years old, I’ve had Crohn’s disease for sixty-one years. Crohn’s disease attacks the digestive system, so at age twenty-five I needed what was then—in 1975—a new therapy to live: TPN, or “total parenteral nutrition.” *

            I get all my nutritional requirements intravenously through a catheter inserted in my chest. Each night I get hooked up to a small IV pump, and I get three liters of IV solution over ten hours. I’ve done that for forty years.

            The doctors never said I’d be on TPN the rest of my life. They thought it might last for six months to a year to give my intestines a rest. But here we are, forty years later! I’m not sure I would have been able to face the fact then that my world would be turned upside down forever.

            But I remember a letter my grandfather, X. T. Prentis, wrote me when I was eight years old and in the hospital. He said, referring to the doctors, “Don’t let them get you down. You’ve got to keep climbing the ladder of life, one rung at a time.” And that’s what I’ve been doing for forty years.

            I could not have done it without my loving supportive family and friends, and my faith. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I believe that by God’s grace, I’ve been able to keep going. I feel blessed to have such good family and friends.


Then and Now

            When we started in 1975, IV poles were awkward and weighed ten to fifteen pounds, pumps weighed fifteen pounds, and three-liter solution came in glass bottles weighting five to ten pounds. Today, there are no more IV poles; we have a backpack. The pump weighs only two pounds, and glass bottles have been replaced by much lighter plastic bags. Things are changing every year.

            Who would have thought then that, at age sixty-five, I would have been able to travel to the Philippines and go parasailing a hundred feet above the boat!

*Editor’s note: We now use the term “HPN,” or “home parenteral nutrition” for parenteral nutrition administered outside of the hospital setting.

LifelineLetter, May/June 2015
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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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