Day 6 - Nil by mouth since 2007
Following Meningitis, a stroke and nerve damage I have been left unable to swallow and speak clearly: I am an enforced enteral feeder.
At one point I was in Critical Care because I had an abscess on the brain stem which initially got bigger, leading to me having a respiratory arrest in the scanner in the hospital. Fortunately the crash team resuscitated me, but as my sat readings were so bad, the E.N.T. (Ear, Nose and Throat) consultant performed a tracheotomy, so that they could put oxygen directly into my neck; I was so ill the doctors told my siblings I probably wouldn't make it!
When the psychologist asked me how I felt about not being able to eat or drink anymore, I accepted it, I was glad to be alive! (I have not eaten or drunk since 2007.) At the time I was so ill, I was in Critical Care for six weeks, which formed part of a year long stay in hospital in Birmingham. At first the smell of food made me melancholy, I knew what I was missing but now it doesn’t bother me at all, I see the years since 2007 as a bonus. Being completely honest I have never missed it!
Initially I had a naso-gastric tube in hospital, but before I could be transferred to the stroke rehabilitation unit in Moseley Hall hospital, I had to have a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) fitted.
As we know, food and drink are everywhere, it is the way most people mark an occasion. Every Christmas since I found myself being fed via a PEG I have been invited to my sister and brother-in-law’s. They always want me to sit with them for Christmas dinner, to be honest I find it quite boring. It usually takes two – three hours and I just sit there! My sister has suggested I read a book, but I refuse to as I feel it’s very rude.
I have enjoyed being able to travel and have been on a cruise with my sister. I always accompany her to the restaurant; I recognise she needs to eat; she cannot stop because of me and I want to be part of the full experience.