Feeding My Daughter

Feeding tubes rule. My daughter Moy Moy has had one in her stomach for seven months now. She has gained nearly twenty pounds and she looks like a whole new girl. Before her surgery, it took us up to an hour to get her to drink an eight-ounce glass of milk; a meal could take twice that long. Between bites, she would have violent coughing spells that shook her whole body. Swallowing had become such an effort that our doctor reckoned most of the calories Moy Moy got from the food were being used up just in consuming it.

As her difficulties increased, and her weight dropped from sixty-two pounds (she is sixteen) to an even more alarming fifty, we realized we had no alternative but to have the operation done.

With the tube in place, feeding her has now become simplicity itself. The system works by gravity. The tube goes straight into Moy Moy’s stomach via a small hole in her abdomen. When it’s time for a meal, we open the stopper on the top of the tube, fit in a little funnel, and pour down the formula. At the end, we flush a syringe of warm water through the tube (doing the dishes, so to speak), and that’s that.

Of course, it didn’t start out so simply. In the beginning, we were devastated by what seemed like an invasive, and unnatural, new development in Moy Moy’s life. I remember bringing her home from the hospital, where I had been brave and all-held-together, and collapsing in tears the first...

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About the Author

Jo McGowan, a Commonweal columnist, writes from Deradoon, India.