June 18, 2010

Clogging the tube. Oops. Now what?

Clogging a tube for the first time is a scary thing, especially when it isn't yours.  Clogging your own somehow just feels like you've been stupid, but that surely you'll work it out.

If you've yet to do it, let me please say to you - don't sweat it, it happens to everyone, and there's always a solution.  Ever since we've invented dynamite, anyway.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways to unclog a tube/extension/button/syringe tip (I'm just saying "tube" for ease here): Mechanical (using a device) or solvent (dissolving the clog).

First, it's time to BUST A MYTH.

The thing is, we all want Coke to do everything.  To be The Real Thing.  We know it can clean copper coins,  remove oil stains from garage floors, and so on and so forth, so it makes sense that it would be the absolute bees knees for a safe, 'foodie' way to dissolve a clog.  Except, there is absolutely no evidence, statistical or even anecdotal, to suggest that Coke or any other carbonated beverage is any more effective then warm water.  They don't call H2O the Universal Solvent for nothing, folks.  And none of the science related to Coke's acidic abilities suggests that it will be effective in the tube situation either.  Acid is not necessarily what you need anyway.  Sorry, Coke, you're fired.

But if you really must use Coke, or another soda, only use a teeny bit and be prepared for the gas response, yes?  Also be prepared for stickiness, for quite possible failure, and for having to use water afterwards anyway.


1) Solvents.

This is usually the first and best option.  Water, preferably warm, but for the first try the temperature doesn't matter too much.  The trick is to bring the water in contact with the clog, so it makes sense just to fill the whole apparatus with water and have a syringe and plunger at the end. So first try...

Technique #1: Pull-and-push.
Thinking about how the clog got there, ie down the tube from the outside in, it makes sense that it will move more easily in reverse than by pushing down harder.  Now you've got your liquid in there and your syringe attached, give a very gentle push on the plunger to make sure everything is in contact; now pull back gently.  If you feel it has 'let go' now, then plunge inwards gently and chances are the clog and everything will flow freely through.  Or, (and if the clog immediately recurs) repeat the pull-and-push action a few times until you feel some movement or 'release' in there.  If it seems the cloggy culprit is something solid and relatively insoluble like a hard seed or a flake of grape skin wadded up then it's best to just keep drawing it right up into the syringe and disposing of it.  If you used cold water and it didn't work, repeat with warm water.

NOTE for button-type users. If pull-and-push hasn't worked while in situ, and you have one of those balloon-type retainers, you may wish to pop the button out now and try it with a syringe while it's out.  With many buttons you can plug the syringe into the internal end of the tube and try that way.

If this hasn't worked for you, we'll need to move on to the next thing.  If you know for sure that your clog is solid and insoluble and the pull-and-push didn't work for you then skip the next bit and go to the following one.

Technique #2:  Make a cup of tea and have a sit down.
Really, although the tea isn't strictly necessary.  This technique involves the magical powers of time.  Using whatever is most appropriate for your equipment, simply 'soak' the clog with warm water.  As an example, just fill the tube with the water, clamp or stopper it, arrange so that the water stays down next to where the clog seems to be (eg in my case ensure my G tube end is elevated), and wait.  like, half an hour or so.  Be patient, things can take time.  When you unclamp/uncork, if the clog doesn't just suddenly drain away, go back to Technique #1 for a little pull-and-push action and see what happens.

Still no action?  Golly, well, not to fear, there are more tricks in the arsenal.

Technique #3:  Supercharged version of Technique #2.
No, you're not going to be drinking the tea really fast this time, but we are going to change the solvent.  This is where you can try your Coke if you still have faith.  It might work this time, who knows?  But there are other, better things.

What we're aiming for now is to digest the clog, so use something enzymatic.  Sounds odd, but meat tenderiser seems to be the number one choice out there.  Makes sense to me, especially if you're feeding meat.  Think of (or remember) thoselittle stringy bits that get stuck between your teeth every now and then when you eat meat?  And how hard they can be to dislodge?  So use the kryptonite (um, not literally kryptonite, please). Here are the things I've heard to work:

Meat tenderiser
Papaya juice
Pineapple juice
Proprietary digestive enzyme products.

Simply perform Technique #2 with one of these, and wait an hour this time.

OK, so if none of these have worked, or if you knew the whole time that it was a solid and insoluble blockage, it's time to move on to....

2)  Device Solutions.

Basically, using something to physically push the clog through.  Use common sense here, please.  No coathangers, no twigs you find lying around (just because I did that does not make it right), and nothing that might harm the tube, or worse, the human.

Many button devices have little locking ends and almost all have one-way valves to keep the stomach contents in.  So be careful with them.  My favourite device is the lacquered chopstick, which is simple to poke in, smooth, easy enough to clean appropriately before and after, and also handily tapered so you can't accidentally put it in too far.

If you've taken the button out, fine, you can be a little more cavalier in your approach but do remember if you're sticking something in a button still in place;   not too far, OK?

I have heard you can get special tube cleaning brushes now, made for extension sets and the like, and if someone can point me in that direction I'll link them up here.  I've heard of ordinary pipe cleaners being used, insulated electrical wire (thin stuff, and only on removed tubes naturally) and a whole bunch of stuff (like my twig) that I'm not even going to repeat.

Yes, but you know, what if.......

If none of this works, there's a very good chance something is wrong with the tube.  Technique #1 will work 95% of the time anyway with a little patience.  If there is seemingly something wrong, dynamite is not a good idea, and you should probably get to some medical attention pretty sharpish.  It might be time for replacement.

That's it for now, but I want to hear all your tips, stories, experiences and questions, so load up down there where it say "Comments", yes?  I'll post up links and cross-reference as more info comes to light.

Lastly, remember this is not rocket surgery.  It's just a tube.  We invented it, we clogged it, we can fix it.  You'll see.

June 14, 2010

In case I wasn't clear...

It's become apparent to me that there may be some people about who are less than wondrously rejoiceful that this site exists.  I admit I was a tiny bit taken aback at this news, but it's a recurring theme of my life and one I have no intention of doing anything to change.  You see, I am rather an optimist and tend to project my optimism about willy-nilly on to others - I assume they will see the good in things (and maybe in me?) first and put their own issues far behind.  Goodness knows you can easily accuse me of hypocrisy on this one as I'm far from perfect but it should say something about my motivations that I am always surprised when someone thinks my good intentions are worthy of suspicion, sanction, or some other negative response.

This site is not intended as competition with any other information resource available.  I do not judge any other resource here.  I intend no affront to the expertise and experience of those who have been living and helping others with BD and tube feeding far longer than I, and I seek to take no personal gain from what I have learned from anyone.  I have used nothing that was not freely offered to the public domain, and where that domain also has a required element of confidentiality I am scrupulous in not crossing that boundary.

I simply believe that information wants to be free.  Liberty is a good thing when it comes to knowledge.

That in cases like this, (I mean the BD thing) where a bit of social change is called for, every little bit can help, and it is simply inappropriate to make competitive assumption or comparison between sites, books, groups, or what have you. 

Take what you find useful, and ignore that which you do not. 

I understand that there is a feeling in some circles that others have tried to leverage personal gain from the good efforts and intentions of others.  If this is the case, and if this was done unfairly, then this is sad.  However it is no reason to decry, or even shun the resulting work if that work may help someone in need.

I shall draw a long bow, with a sinister and extreme analogy:
Much of what we know about treating decompression sickness is based on experiments carried out by Nazis on prisoners of war and other helpless victims, many or most of whom suffered terribly and died as a result.  Unpleasant and woeful as this may be, we did not choose to ignore the lessons learned and refuse to treat sufferers because of where the information came from.

What I am sharing and aim to share here in no way impedes freedom of speech, invades anyone's privacy, betrays anyone's confidence, or detracts in any way from the good name or work of others, OK?  If you feel this to be in some way incorrect *please* tell me so I can address it if needs be.

For people to gain the insight of the crowd, it requires a crowd to respond.  I have trawled some 'crowds' for the benefit of whomsoever wanders by and finds this site, not for self-aggrandisement, but for everyone.  Of course it has my personal skew but that's inevitable.  I embrace this, and take responsibility for it.  The inability of more than 5 people to get true consensus on anything means that a summation of material must necessarily be done by one of only a few people if it is in any way to succeed.  I do like to think I have some small talent to offer in this regard, as my personal history shows me.  My reward (if there can be said to be one) is seeing change happen and lives improve.  That is all.

If you have information you do not wish to release to others for their own wellbeing, of course, that is your right.  I suggest you do not tell a soul.  For if history can teach us anything, it is that thought spreads, the word always gets out.  Information wants to be free.

My only hope is that whatever choices you make, you do so in the light of consciousness, conscience, and love.
You know something really important though?

Flowers.  Here's some now :-)


June 13, 2010

OK Go!

I reckon I've hit the 80% ready mark now so for now, I'm done.

Welcome to the new blog site.  The pages listed over to the right are where all the main information is and shall reside.  Blog posts will come as they do, containing hints, tips, stories, recipes and so on.  If you have something you would like linked, or you want to send me a suggestion, then check out the Contact page.

On topic, here's what I just blended today.  Those of you familiar with my other blog will understand my measurement system, I'm sure. Usual disclaimer re faulty memory also :-)

Sesame seeds, a short pouring
Dried cranberries, small half handful
Chia seeds, maybe a Tblspn or two
Pecans, about 20
Almonds, about 30
Orange sweet potatoes (raw), a couple of medium ones
Half a lebanese cucumber
2 medium paprika (fresh) from the garden, seeded
An avocado
Applesauce - it's really apple, red pear and spice stuff I made a while back, about a cup and a half
Sunflower pumpernickel bread, the really dense stuff, maybe 100 grams
Olive oil, a long splash and gurgle (local Extra Virgin)
Wakame seaweed flakes, a big sprinkle
Ground cardamom, ginger powder, dried fennel seed and dill tops - some.
Oat milk, 1 litre
about 500 ml water, as it was surprisingly thick.

I recently learned that almonds are a natural thickener, but I inconveniently forgot this earlier when combining with avo and sesame - both thickeners as well - and I suspect the debse rye and sunflower contributed a fair bit too.  Made just under 2.5 litres and is still a little bit too thick to gravity feed bolus-wise.  What this means is depending on my feeling in the moment I either dilute it a bit (if I feel volume is not an issue) so it runs nicely (my preferred option) or just do the old fill/plunge/unplug/deplunge/insert/fill/plunge etc routine.

Here's an irrelevant picture of some rhinoceros.

From our awesome day at the zoo.

So, yes, welcome.


June 9, 2010

Construction update...

OK, so it's taking just a bit longer than I had originally anticipated, in part due to the beautiful weather here right now (gardening while the sun is out) and in part due to a small on-topic personal crisis as related HERE.  Anyway, things are headed back on track now so I'll be ready to hit the 'go' button very soon.

I'm a firm believer in the 80% rule.  As in, "you'll never be 100% ready for anything, so as soon as you've got it up to 80, then GO!" A strong and ancient part of my persona is that of the exacting cratfsman - or to put it another way, paralysis through perfectionism.  The 80% thing subverts that nicely.

Right now there are over half the 'bones' in place, and the real large one (the spine?) on BD is just about underway.  I think I know how to get it rolling in the right direction.  Then launch, and the real fun begins.  The part where you get to throw your 2 cents (that's 5 cents with inflation and rounding) worth in.

I have a wonderful sense of antici......


June 5, 2010

First post, blog under construction.

I've started this blog in part to meet a need elsewhere - on the Blenderized Diet, BlenderizedDietAdult and tubefeeding fora hosted in Yahoo! groups and in other similar places.  Many people join these groups all the time, and mostly ask the same sorts of questions, but the groups aren't really set up to have a simple FAQ or starter page.  the other motivation is to provide an extra resource for those using tubes for nutrition, especially those incorporating real food.

I intend to do a 'how-to' for starting out with BD (Blenderized Diet) for those who feed via a tube of some sort, have a few FAQ type things on BD and tube feeding, and update with stories and information on these and related subjects.  Comments will be enabled, unmoderated at this stage I think, and thus free for all.

I'm keeping it separate from my original blog (still going strong), Entropy and Light, for ease of use, and to keep this one more 'on-message'.  Entropy and Light is a totally different kettle of fish.  It's so different, it's not actually a kettle of fish at all.  It's especially not a kettle of sardines, nutritious though they may be.  But I digress.

As usual, I have no idea how it'll work out.  Let's just go and see!  It'll take me some days to start, so if you're here early, do be sure to pop back every now and then.