Being told you or your loved one needs a feeding tube can be overwhelming. The fear of the unknown can be scary with all the equipment, supplies, and new terminology. Embrace the “new normal” of Home Enteral Nutrition Therapy and see the therapy for the incredible benefit it provides with these tips.

Learn to manage enteral nutrition

Master enteral nutrition skills by breaking more complex tasks into a series of manageable steps.

  • Whenever possible, observe your health-care provider perform the task and then you perform the task while receiving feedback from the instructor. Eventually you will be able to teach someone else the learned skill. This reinforces mastery and contributes to positive self-esteem.
  • Make your home enteral nutrition regimen flexible to minimize the extent it disrupts your daily life. Work with your Option Care Health Dietitian to see if you can simplify your regimen, reduce infusion time, or begin weaning.
  • Be prepared and know what to do if an unexpected complication arises. The Patient Guide to Enteral Nutrition that you received with your first delivery addresses some of these issues.

Adjustment your activities if necessary

Having a feeding tube does not have to limit your physical or social activity. Patients continue to be active by playing sports, running, swimming, walking, for example. Find what motivates you to resume enjoyable and rewarding activities. It can help to keep in mind that you can manage physical discomfort and make adjustments as you continue your daily activities.

  • You may experience minor soreness like a pulled muscle, around the tube insertion site, for a few days to weeks. This is normal however proper site care is very important the first 72 hours after insertion. In addition, regaining physical strength and nutritional status are helpful to participate in your self-care and manage emotionally with your home enteral nutrition therapy.
  • Find alternative ways to use your skills and talents to learn a new hobby, if you are currently unable to participate in certain activities.
  • When attending a social event, remember that food is just one aspect of the event. Enjoy the conversations with other guests, or if the event is a football game for example, enjoy the game, and company. You must make up your mind beforehand that food is not everything, and don’t dwell on the reason why you can’t eat during the occasion. If this is impossible, skip this one event until you are ready to take on this challenge. Start with small social gatherings and work your way up. If possible, bring your tube feeding with you, so you don’t feel so hungry during the event.

Adopt a positive mindset

It is common to go through an emotional adjustment or depression following having a feeding tube inserted. Some days will be better than others. You will have ups and downs.

  • Accept what you cannot change. It is important to keep your hopes alive but try to make the most of your condition today.
  • Refuse to play the role of the victim. Empower yourself, take charge, and respond to problems in a constructive manner.
  • Enteral nutrition does not indicate failure on anyone’s part. Being ashamed or embarrassed of the tube is not unusual at first.
  • Dwelling on negative experiences without trying to resolve them can be self-defeating. Focus on the situations you can change.
  • Laughter and relaxation techniques can have profound influence on your physical and mental health. Using humor to lighten the mood encourages relaxation.

Educate yourself and get support

You’re not the first person who has gone through this process and you won’t be the last. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask questions until you understand what, why, how, when, where and who. Adapting to life with tube feeding is easier if you have the knowledge. Write down your questions for your doctor, record symptoms and bring these items to appointments.

Recognizing and accepting the need for support is also critical. Lean on those who have been where you are. The Oley Foundation  and the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation  are great resources. Joining a support group has many benefits, too.

Connect with Option Care Health

With over 2 million patients receiving Nutrition Support Services and other forms of infusion therapy at home or at the infusion sites, Option Care Health is one of the most successful and experienced outpatient infusion therapy providers. Connect with us to see if there is an infusion site near you or speak to a representative to see if in-home infusion therapy is an option for your patients.