Friday, December 30, 2016

How To Feel Comfortable With A Feeding Tube In Public

Feeding tubes are often viewed as life limiting by the general population. That idea is far from the truth though. Your feeding tube does not have to evoke mortification in social settings. In fact, the device is probably the reason you are even able to partake in life out in public.

Applied Medical Technology was kind enough to contribute an article with helpful tips on how we, as tubies, can reduce the stigma and feel comfortable with a feeding tube in public.

Does your feeding tube feel more like an albatross when you are out and about in public? It probably seems like everyone is talking about it, and some might well be, but that doesn’t change much. The feeding tube is a lifeline, a necessary one for your well-being.  

Managing your feeding tube in public has much more to do with you than it does with anyone else. You have to find ways to deal with others because you can’t change their reactions to you. What can you do to feel more comfortable with your feeding tube while in a public setting?

Understand Natural Curiosity

A feeding tube is not something people see every day. Remind yourself of that fact when you catch people staring. It’s rude, sure, but it is also possible they don’t realize they are doing it. That curiosity is as much about you as it is about your tube. You might receive questions like:

  • What is that?
  • What is wrong with you?
  • Why do you need that tube?
  • How does it work?

It’s up to you to have a little compassion for these people, despite their stares and questions. If you learn to understand their natural curiosity, you’ll manage your reaction to it much better. Don’t hesitate to stop and nicely explain to someone who is staring what a feeding tube is and why you need it.

Become the Master of Your Feeding Tube

Being the master of anything means you are prepared for everything. Carry what you need with you to handle an emergency. For example, carry wipes and clean gauze in case there is a leak. You might even want to have a change of clothes available. If you will be away from home for a feeding, take what you need to clear your tube of a clog. 

The better prepared you are to handle the little issues quickly, the more confident you’ll be in public.

Be a Feeding Tube Ambassador

People will probably ask questions about your tube, and believe it or not, this is a good thing. Having a feeding tube gives you the opportunity to improve awareness and educate others.  

Consider ahead of time how much information you want to share with others about your tube and the medical condition requiring it. That will help you feel less awkward when the questions do come.  

You’ll need to get ready for the really ignorant questions, too. For example, people might make assumptions, like maybe you have the tube to help lose weight. Again, try to remind yourself that these people might not see feeding tubes often. You can take advantage of the question to clear up a misconception.

Manage Your Own Feeding Tube Demons

If you want others to be accepting of your feeding tube, then learn to accept it yourself. If you try to hide the tube or deny you even have one, you are setting yourself up for more stress. The best way to manage other people’s expectations is to manage your own first.  

The feeding tube provides you with nutrition and medication that you need to live. You didn’t choose it, so don’t be embarrassed by it. You may never love having a feeding tube, but if you learn to accept it, others will too.

Don't Limit Yourself

It’s a feeding tube, not a restraint. There are very few things you can’t do with it in place. Remind yourself of this often, especially when you are tempted to pass up a chance to have some fun. Make sure your friends and family understand, too, that you have very few physical limitations. It is best to check with your primary care physician before engaging in strenuous activities, but you can basically do anything you want. 

 People who have feeding tubes:

  • Exercise
  • Play sports
  • Enjoy movies
  • Explore museums
  • Go on vacation
  • Take classes
  • Drive cars
  • Go swimming

Being comfortable in public starts with acceptance — yours. You have a feeding tube because you need one. Once you accept that simple concept, you’ll find ways to deal with the rest of it.
Author bio: Elizabeth Duhan serves as the Marketing Project Specialist at Applied Medical Technology, Inc., a global leader and manufacturer of enteral feeding devices and accessories, upholding the highest standard for performance and quality assurance for over 30 years.