My first PEG feeding tube: an experience report

I have already described how a PEG tube is placed in this blogpost here. However, this is really only an objective description of the procedure. Today I would like to share my personal impressions of the first PEG placement with you. I will be focussing on the day of the procedure itself. Because the preliminary discussions and preparations are definitely worth a separate article at a later date. They were also a great example of what doctors can do wrong when dealing with patients. Or right. I have already explained the reasons why I had a PEG in the first place in more detail here.

The day starts early

The day of placing a percutaneous feeding tube starts early. As you have to be fasting for the procedure, it is obviously not possible to wait until the afternoon. PEGs are therefore often the first procedures planned in an endoscopy department in the morning. In my opinion at least, this also has the advantage that the medical staff are still quite fresh and well-rested. So once you arrive in the endoscopy department without breakfast, you usually have to wait. That’s actually standard in hospitals. It was the same for me at the time. After I was transferred from the rehabilitation clinic to the local hospital by lying-down transport, because there was of course no corresponding department in the clinic, I lay in the corridor for some time. All alone. With my thoughts and also with my fears. After all, I didn’t really know what was going to happen to me. Every now and then, a nurse would pop in and reassure me that things would start soon.

A quick routine procedure

When the time finally came, everything went pretty quickly. It’s an absolutely routine procedure for the hospital staff. They all know what they have to do. After all, they’ve done it dozens of times before. There’s no time for questions at this point. The patient for the next procedure is probably already outside in the corridor. It is therefore important to inform yourself in detail beforehand (e.g. on this blog) or have someone else do it for you. At the time, I was only able to get the doctors, who of course don’t even introduce themselves before they push needles and tubes into your body, to promise to keep an eye on my pulse and breathing. Because of my medical condition, anaesthesia is always tricky. That was my biggest worry at the time. I was then given an intravenous cannula, had the bite guard put in my mouth and was sent to the land of dreams.

By far the best

Although that is actually the wrong euphemism. You don’t dream with this sedation. Regardless of whether propofol or midazolam is used. Personally, I now prefer the latter for such procedures. This is because there is an antidote (flumazenil). The anaesthetic can therefore be stopped quickly at any time. With propofol, on the other hand, you have to wait until the effect wears off. However, this moment, when the sedation starts to take effect, is the best part of the whole procedure. By far. Simply an amazing feeling. It doesn’t make up for the pain afterwards, but at least you get something in return for your health insurance contributions for two or three seconds.

However, this moment was ruined for me one time I had my feeding tube changed. I was really angry afterwards. I had wanted to think about something nice. But that’s another story.

Like a vampire

After you feel like you’ve flown away a few seconds ago, you come round again. In reality, of course, some time has passed and the procedure is over. A clear sign of this is the pain. Because when the body suddenly has a hole with a foreign object in it, which is not naturally intended, it hurts a lot. In my case, there was also the fact that this hole was obviously in a completely different place than I had expected. This was due to a lack of information beforehand. But after I had been reassured several times that the treatment team had done everything right, I resigned myself to my fate. I dozed off for a while and tried to accept that over the next few days I would probably feel like a vampire who hadn’t had the wooden stake rammed into his heart, but a few centimetres too deep, just into his upper body. Not nice, but it couldn’t be changed again … Then it was back to the rehab clinic, again by ambulance. Including the transport and waiting times, the whole thing took about 3 hours. From then on, my life with PEG began. Incidentally, this blogpost is about the first few days after a PEG placement.