Findings underscore importance of prevention efforts
by craftylynn on Sun Apr 11, 2010 03:31 AM
My dad had cancer surgery and had to have his small intestine re-routed and connected to his stomach. He was told within 17 days or less his stomach would start to function again. It has been 7 weeks now and he is still in the hospital with his stomach just sitting there and doing nothing. Now we are at the point of dad refusing another surgery that they don't know would even work or coming home to dehydrate and die or come home with a feeding tube inserted into his small intestine like it has been from the start, for the rest of his life. My question is can he live very long like that, never eating again? Is the ensure that is put into the feeding tube enough to keep him alive or is this just a slower way to die?
by cdnmom on Sun Apr 11, 2010 05:25 AM
Hi-- I am in the midst of the same dilemma...My wonderful husband, Dan (age 59) had the same surgery, a gastrojejunostomy, on Mar. 17 for which he was in the hospital for 3 weeks. He, too, has a J-tube for feedings. His stomach is working "a little" (had an UGI that showed that the contrast did leave his stomach by way of the anastomosis.) However, he does not eat; he has no appetite. Whether he will ever eat, we don't know, but I doubt that he will ever be able to eat enough to maintain proper nutrition. Right now he is trying to get his nutritional status back to normal.
The primary lab test to determine malnutrition is called pre-albumin. Normal is 20-40, the doctors get concerned if it is less than 15; below 10 is critical; below 5 has a poor prognosis. Dan's was 7.2; it has SLOWLY risen to 9.3 on tube feedings. He remains weak, feels poorly, still has alot of surgical pain.
A person can live a long time on tube feedings, assuming that there are no other complications. If a stomach doesn't work at ALL, the doctors put in a G-tube (a gastrostomy tube directly into the stomach) that can be drained when needed, and be fed through the J-tube.. The person can then eat 'comfort eating and drinking,' then drain it out. There are many severely disabled (for one reason or another) people that live for years just on tube feedings. I personally know of a woman that has been on them for 22 years--through a G-tube. Ideally it would be through a G-tube (you can be fed through a G-tube if your stomach is working.) For yours and mine situations, we are looking at J-tube feedings which are possible but care needs to be taken because to replace a J-tube (whether plugged or dislodged) requires a surgery; whereas, a G-tube can be replaced by anyone if it has been in for awhile and a permanent track is made.
Sorry to ramble, but yes, a person can live a long time on tube feedings. Hope this helps; any other questions, please ask....sandy
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