I just had a new PEG feeding tube installed in my tummy last Thursday at Assunta Hospital. All in all, the procedure and hospitalization cost MYR 7025.10. The surgery was performed by a gastrointestinologist, Dr Jeeta who was trained in India which seems to have made him a special solution centric, I mean, he doesn’t talk anything needlessly but say what is important and what can move things forward. The surgery was assisted by Anatesialogist Dr Lam whom I heard resembles Kentucky Fried Chicken’s, Colonel Sanders.

I have difficulty eating after two brain surgeries at NIH last year, it was because I had a very large tumour in the brain that engulfed my swallowing nerves among others. After the tumour was removed, the swallowing nerves remained irritated and needed time to return to normal. It has been taking more time than expected. I also have a paralyzed left vocal cord, immobile left palette and my throat muscles are weak. All these make eating pretty dangerous for me. I was given my first PEG tube after surgery last year. I used it for 9 months and had it taken out when my swallowing improved.

However, in the last few months, I seemed to have more difficulty to eat again.

In view of my upcoming surgery in Los Angeles, I decided it was time to put in a PEG tube again. This PEG tube is a cooler version, it is just a button in my abdomen. Whenever I am hungry, I would open the button and attached a small silicone tube to feed myself. After feeding, I would remove the tube and close back the button. Just like inspector gadget.

My first tube given by the NIH last year was an old-fashioned tube. It was bigger, made of rubber and the tube was not detachable. So I had it dangling out of my stomach 24 hours a day, like an extra limb. The one made of rubber, got dirty easily as food could get stuck to it. That does not happen with this new silicone tube.

But just like the first PEG tube surgery, this surgery last week was also very painful. Perhaps just a notch less painful than the first. The new hole is made on the left side of my abdomen, the first hole was made on the right side of my abdomen. Perhaps it is the fact that, the incision being adjusted to abdominal muscles makes PEG tube insertion surgery one of the most painful surgeries I have had. Furthermore, it also involved adding inorganic objects to my stomach. The insides hurt me intermittently for a week after surgery. So, I have to grit it out until this phase passes. Once it is over, my PEG tube will be so natural, it is just like having an extra body part.

On the morning of surgery, my mother took me to admission and accompanied me till I was fully sedated in the operating theatre. The surgical nurses and Dr Lam were amusing which made the process pleasant. The procedure took only 30 minutes or so I was told, but I had to be intubated nevertheless. Prior to surgery, I made it a point to inform Dr Lam about my weak throat structures as I described above so he will be careful with the breathing tube, in case I needed to use it.

When I woke up next, I was already in my regular ward with four people sharing a room. I stayed in this first room for only one night before ward nurses decided to move me to another room nearer to the nursing station. This second room is habituated by old folks. The nurses spend more time here so they decided to put me here as well for closer observation. It was fine with me due to my damaged vision and total deafness. It does not matter whether I stayed with old or young folks. I can not see anyone else besides the person right in front of me.

All of the nurses who take care of me in the ward were diploma students at the next door Tun Tan Cheng Lock nursing school. One of them was only a second-year diploma student. Although a little clueless sometimes, I appreciated their innocence and a big heart. They were new in the field, fresh face, hopeful and cared for me freely. It reminds me of my own lost innocence. It was good enough for non-acute cares but if I was in the hospital for something more serious, I would prefer more experienced nurses to look after me and nurses who can make accurate judgement promptly.

I also appreciated that Assunta assigned their staff nurse to insert an IV outlet into my arm and poke another needle into the other arm for taking blood samples prior the surgery. It was a painless procedure. I was glad that they did not let the students do it on me.

Now with my new PEG tube in, it is time to feed myself better to strengthen my physical body for surgery once again.

Categories: Health

Yvonne Foong

As a child, Yvonne Foong dreamed of growing up to help others. To achieve her ambition, she began studying to become a psychologist. But things changed when tumours were discovered in her body at the age of sixteen. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 -- a genetic illness with no cure. Fighting for survival, Yvonne turned to fundraising and embarked on a medical odyssey to the United States. Her experiences since then have transformed her into a motivational speaker; inspiring hope, faith and strength. Yvonne is currently working to establish a humanitarian foundation that provides NF patients in Malaysia with financial and logistical support. Visit Works of Gratitude to learn more.

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