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|Tube Feeding Tips: Mechanical Pump|
A Mechanical Pump: No Batteries Required
This edition of “Tube Talk” highlights the ingenuity of Oley member Robert “Flute” Snyder. Flute demonstrated how this pump works in the Tube Feeding Workshop at the 2011 Oley conference; it was so well received by other consumers at the workshop, we wanted to share it here. While Flute’s pump might be one of a kind, it shows how resourceful he was, and how you, too, can problem solve. (We recommend you discuss your creative solutions with your health care team before you put them to use.) We are sorry that we were unable to publish this before Flute’s untimely death. He was a frequent contributor to this column, and we’ll miss him tremendously (tribute to Flute).
I finally photographed my pump system for the LifelineLetter. Starting at the far left, you see the G-tube extending from my stomach zone (arrow #1). Next comes the “Y” connector that’s standard on my type of G-tube (arrow #2). Next we see the stopcock that my wife (Ann)’s son Joel fabricated for me (arrow #3). I tried to find a 1/4” ID (internal diameter) stopcock with 1/4” double male barbed ends, but failed. They all had tiny IDs that wouldn’t work with real food. [“Double male barbed ends” refers to ends on either side of the stopcock that fit into and grip the inside of the tubing.]
Next we see a standard off-the-shelf fitting that locks and unlocks with a simple mechanism that has remained totally faithful for over three years now (arrow #4). At five to ten snappings per day, that makes a host of connections.
Next you see the black cap Joel fabricated out of aircraft-quality plastic that’s guaranteed for ten thousand years (arrow #5). I had to change from the standard cap that comes with refrigerator jars because they’d split after four thousand tightenings and loosenings. This cap is forever!
As you can see, I’ve ingested most of the 34 ounces of puree and am about to shut off the stopcock, loosen the cap on the jar, squeeze the jar, form a vacuum, seal the cap again, then open the connector. The vacuum then sucks excess puree back into the jar rather than spitting it onto my slacks. After I remove the jar to the kitchen, I put 3 or 4 ounces of water in the jar, shake it around to remove the puree sticking to the jar, and ingest the thin solution through my G-tube. Then I rinse out the jar, put it aside until the next use, put a felt sock on my G-tube apparatus, tuck it into my shirt, and go on with my life.
Oh yes, you’ll notice the blood pressure bulb at the far right, which serves as the pressure-enhancing mechanism driven by my battery-free hand (arrow #6). For your information, after squeezing the bulb several hundred times a day for almost ten years, I’ve got a grip that’ll stop a macho dude teenager in his tracks every time. [Editor’s note: By pumping the bulb, Flute injected air into the jar, which caused the puree to be pushed into the tubing and then his G-tube. He controlled the speed of the flow by injecting more or less air—with more or fewer pumps—as needed.]
You may notice, also, the tiny little white zip-ties that grip three of the connectors (arrow #7). For some reason, when the cat walks on my tubing, the connections come loose and I spray puree all over the place.
Oh yes, the tubing is 1/4” ID fuel line designed for small engines. On the package it states, “Not for medicinal use.” I figure if it’s designed for gasoline, it’ll handle a few beans, a can of tuna, and whatever else Ann tosses into my jar from the leftover shelf in the fridge.
—Robert “Flute” Snyder
LifelineLetter, September/October 2011