Problem: granulation tissue
Granulation tissue is a pain…literally. You can wear a tubie pad or gauze to protect your stoma, you can load on the barrier cream and change your dressing often, but odds are you’ll end up with GT at some point in your journey as a tubie. Your doctor can treat it with silver nitrate sticks but that burns and requires a trip to the office or hospital.
Alum is a pickling spice that you can mix with a little water to make a paste. Apply the paste directly to the granulation tissue with a Q-tip and be careful to avoid the healthy skin. Apply gauze over the area and let it do its magic. After 24 hours, it should darken (almost black), shrink, and fall off. Make sure to use Calmoseptine or another barrier cream to sooth the skin in the following days. Repeat steps as necessary.
If a pickling spice sounds a bit too DIY/home remedy for you, try a product like GranuLotion. It’s a topical treatment made specifically to take care of painful granulation tissue. The process is the exact same as the alum + Calmoseptine mixture and the box comes with 5 packets so you have access to multiple applications.
Problem: disconnecting on accident
Disconnecting your fed line from your tube is messy and frustrating, especially if you’re in public or it’s in the middle of the night and you don’t notice. I’m sure every tubie has heard the joke about “feeding the bed” instead of themselves. Tape can do the trick sometimes, but that’s a lot of tape and sometimes it loses its stickiness and slips out of place.
Solution: port covers
An easy solution to disconnecting and making a mess is a fashionable port cover. A port cover encases your tube ports and your line hook ups to keep them snuggly together. The fabric is also absorbent, just in case there somehow is a leak. If you’re super mobile in bed and run night feeds, this is the product for you! It’s also great for when you’re feeding in public and you’re worried about soaking your clothes on accident.
Four words every tubie dreads saying… “my tube is clogged!” What do you do when you can’t get anything through your tube? The panic you feel when nothing will budge and a trip to the hospital seems imminent, you will do basically anything to get things moving. No one wants to have a tube replacement due to a nasty clog.
Solution: warm water + sheer strength or Lopez valve
Sometimes a clog is a two-person job. Hold the port of your tube and ask someone to push about 20mls of warm water through your tube with force. I’m talking red-imprint-on-your-hand-from-the-syringe hard. This should “pop” the formula or medicine through the tube. It may hurt a bit but it’s over quickly and doesn’t do any damage to your tube or stomach. Follow up with as much water as you can tolerate to make sure the clog is all the way through. If that doesn’t work, you can request a device from your doctor called a Lopez valve. This valve is specially designed to give you more leverage when pushing down on the syringe. A lot of hospitals use these when you come in with a clog you can’t get out at home. Skip the ER or doctor’s office and get a Lopez valve of your own.
Problem: leaky stoma
Leaky stomas are no fun. Plus, they can lead to granulation tissue. The stoma needs to be kept as dry as possible. Usually doctors send you on your way with gauze pads and instruct you to change it every 12 or so hours. While gauze totally does the job to keep the stoma dry, it’s kind of boring. Why not make the experience a little prettier?
Solution: tubie pads
Tubie pads are not only practicable and reusable but they’re fun! A tubie pad is a small, usually circular, piece of fabric sown together with an absorbent backing that is cut down the middle for easy placement around the tube. This creates a soft barrier between your stoma and the plastic tubing. It can greatly help improve and prevent granulation tissue as well as protect the sensitive skin around the tube. Tubie pads come in all different sizes and can be used on an infant or an adult. There’s also every pattern of fabric you could ever dream of.
Problem: stained tubie pads
Stained tubie pads are frustrating because they’re so cute and you don’t want to ruin them with gross stoma leakage. Over washing tubie pads in the washing machine can be just as damaging as eventually the fabric will wear down.
Solution: double wash-once by hand
The best and most efficient way I’ve discovered to clean my tubie pads is to wash off the discharge right after taking off the pad. Then I either let it soak in water and a little dawn dish soap overnight or I hand wash it gently. After, it gets tossed in a lingerie bag which can be thrown in with your regular wash the next time you do it.
Problem: irritated skin around the stoma
Itchy and raw skin is normal with a feeding tube, especially if you have a long tube that dangles and pulls. A lot of people suggest using diaper rash cream around the stoma to help calm it down. While that works, there is a more effective product out there.
Solution: barrier cream
Calmoseptine is great for the skin. It provides a physical moisture barrier for injured skin. It also acts as a counter-irritant, and temporarily relieves discomfort and itching. On Calmoseptine’s list of uses, it mentions it is a protectant for feeding tube sites.
Problem: catching your feed line on something
Door knobs and the like are the bane of a tubie’s existence. There’s nothing quite as annoying as getting your feed line caught on a knob or handle. You could tape the line down to your body but that’s damaging to the skin. It’s also not exactly comfortable.
Solution: tube clip
Tube clips are small devices that hold your tube line up and closer to your body to prevent lines from becoming twisted, caught up, or snagged on things throughout your feed. It can also guide the line so it can run it along the chest and out the top of a shirt instead of underneath the shirt. Super handy and convenient.
Problem: bumping your tube/stoma
Have small kids? An energetic dog who likes to jump? Are you just plain clumsy (like me)? Sometimes it’s tricky to secure a tube closely to your body or protect a button tube and it’s really easy to bump it. A little padding could save you from painful moments of an irritated stoma.
Solution: tube belt
A tube belt will put your mind at ease as it adds padding around your abdomen and tube to make sure it’s safe when going about daily activities. I personally used a tube belt when I first got my long feeding tube because I wasn’t sure how my puppy would react to it. While she learned to leave my tube alone, the belt provided comfort that she couldn’t directly get at my tube. Tube belts have to be custom made to assure the waist size and pocket for the tube are the correct size.
*None of this advice is from a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before attempting any home remedies suggested. These are purely based from personal experience, not medical knowledge*